When I started college and I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t even walk one block by myself late at night to get back to my dorm. I would always be walked home, at least most of the way. I was new to this world of being on my own, of living in a “city,” and of walking places rather than having a car. Then we broke up and I adapted to living independently of anyone else. I started walking places by myself when it was dark out. Next, I got into the habit of walking home by myself at 2 in the morning when the bars closed. I know 2 AM is late for a girl to be walking alone, but in the thriving college town of Burlington, I swear sometimes the streets were more populated at this hour between dusk and dawn than in the broad daylight. My junior year I started running late at night alone after getting out of work, which my parents and relatives weren’t crazy about, but I always stayed on safe routes through UVM and main streets. Honestly, running at night in Burlington was probably less dangerous than running on trails in the woods throughout high school in the middle of the day. My routine of late night runs and walking everywhere alone continued throughout the rest of college and the remainder of my time in Burlington until I moved to Boston. In my view, the independence that I acquired while off on my own for the first time is exactly what people are supposed to learn about themselves when they move out of their parents’ house and start college. Because of the independence that I gained while living in Burlington, I moved to Boston fearless of life in the big city.
My first fall in Boston two years ago was a huge lifestyle adjustment for me. I started working typical office hours and had to grow accustomed to waking up at the crack of dawn, rather than working 4-11 PM like I did in college. My family reading this will be happy to know that not once in Boston have I gone for a run late at night; I’ve run in the darkness of 6 AM or 6 PM when the daylight hours in winter become drastically limited, but I’ve never run at what could be considered a dangerous hour. However, although I’ve adjusted my running schedule to be “safer”, I haven’t sacrificed any of my independent lifestyle because of the dangerous possibilities that go hand in hand with living in one of the country’s major cities. If I take the T home late at night by myself, I obviously walk the 10 minutes from the stop to my house. If I leave a bar alone, I get from A to B just fine. Yes, I take cabs all the time, but I don’t solely rely on cabs because I’m too scared to walk alone.
The recent events of girls getting killed and stalked in Southie has caused fear in a lot of people I know. To be honest, it hasn’t really affected me. I’m not on my toes any more now than I’ve always been. I don’t carry a stick or weapon around with me. I still walk where I need to when I need to. I think my parents understand this sense of independence. After all, they’re the ones who spent their twenties traveling the country and the world–before they met– sometimes alone. I haven’t ever been in a dangerous situation like my mom was in when she was my age, in which she was picked up as a hitch hiker, driven down a back road, and she jumped out of the moving vehicle, possibly saving her life. An experience like this would probably make me strongly rethink the way I view my independence. Let’s just hope I never have to.
To summarize, this is my belief. Whether or not you agree with it is fine. Yes, it’s a dangerous world. Wherever you are and whatever you do. Terrorist attacks happen. People get killed, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. There are lots of crazy, sketchy people who live in every city. If I live with the fear of the countless dangerous scenarios I could get into by being by myself, I sacrifice my independence. I’m not willing to do that. I’m going to continue to live my life and not let the horrors of the world stop me.