A divorced writer named Elizabeth Gillbert decides to take a year for herself and live in Italy, India and Indonesia for four months. This is the book that was in my slightly shaking hands as I made my way through airports past smiling flight attendants.
In retrospect, the only conscious thought running through my mind during the hours it took me to devour this memoir was I can do that? This woman was doing everything that I had been secretly dreaming about for months: traveling, learning a new language, and being completely self reliant.
These were things that I had been raised not to want by omission. I was supposed to find a steady job and stay in one place, not be a writer and travel the world. Why, I thought. Even Elizabeth Gillbert was told she was crazy for doing this, and she certainly turned out all right in the end. Why is everyone so quick to point out that things won’t work, even before anything happens?
I am not a feminist by any means; I’m just a stubborn girl who does not like being told what to do. Does it matter that I don’t want what conventional society tells me I should want: to be a selfless mother who should marry the first person who asks her (because without a family there is nothing)?
I have a family, I just don’t have to potty-train them. What Elizabeth Gillbert decided to do by traveling the world was to heal herself on her terms by doing the thing she loved most: traveling. Why does that make her crazy?
As noted in both the novel and the film, if a man said that he wanted to travel the world, there would be no one questioning his sanity; but a woman says she wants to travel the world, and there is an uproar of criticism.
Yes, the world is not as safe as it used to be, but Tampa is no Singapore either. Just because a woman is thinking about her own needs rather than what society thinks she should want, it does not make her crazy. It means that she is strong for going after what she wants. That’s a good thing, remember?
Elizabeth Pichette can be contacted at email@example.com