I’m in love! I love you, and I love myself! You should be in love too! You should be so deeply besotted with yourself right now that everything is literally glowing and you see kittens and puppies and rainbows shooting out of people’s heads. Why? Because I can assure you that you are lovely, a beautiful woman with an amazing sense for adventure and success. You, reader, are intelligent, clever and creative. You are inspiring, determined and kind. You are my girl crush. You should love yourself. This is a special announcement. For too long I had been out of love with myself. I had been bitchy and mean to other girls. Before I could even anticipate it, I thought horrible things about my fellow women. I felt inadequate standing beside them and constantly compared myself to them. I picked apart their appearances and in a silent barrage of wit, destroyed them. For too long I hated women. The irony is that I believed myself to be a feminist, I prided myself on my beliefs in equality. But was I lying to myself. I didn’t care about my sex, I cared about being the prettiest, the smartest, the best.
These were impossible goals. It all seems so simple to me now, I can never ever be the prettiest, the smartest, the best, no one can do that all alone. I needed to change the habit of comparing myself to other women in a negative way. No more personal beatings about how I’ll never be as thin or beautiful as others that I meet, but instead, I now try to look to them to find the qualities so enriching to the modern lifestyle of love and support. My enemy is not my enemy, she is the chance I have to find out who I am. She is my best friend: she is my girl crush.
We need to stop hurting ourselves and destroying each other. The venom that spews from us when we feel threatened is incredibly damaging. Trust me, it is not easy to break those bad habits of being judgemental but I strongly urge you to try, really try to love your fellow girl. Having been through the mill and come out a whole new woman, I’m here to help. I’m here to present new role models to show you that the ‘perfect’ women in the media and pop culture are not your friends, they will not help you. You must look to your left, look to your right, look in front of you, at the woman beside you on the bus, at the park, in the gym or at the next desk at work and see she is your role model.
Her failures and successes, her fears and her virtues, are yours too. If we can accept that we are not living a life of solitude but that we are a community I can promise you that our shared greatest ambition of peace can be attained. Abolish that jealousy you feel towards women and replace it with inspiration.
Welcome to the series Girl Crush. My aim is to wash away the bitter aftertaste left by artifical success and have a clear discussion about the journey of female lives. Here I will be interviewing Irish women who have an incredible amount of drive. These women are creative, beautiful, smart and inspiring. They are women just like you. I urge you to look to them for guidance and inspiration. Recognise that these women are near you, like your family and friends, they are part of your community. Looking locally for inspiration can unearth surprising results. Women all around us are doing interesting things, proof that you can do amazing things too. Why do we lust after celebrities we don’t know a single real truth about? We refuse to accept that often these celebrity women are manufactured and delivered to us in a neat package. On this basis of the world’s most perfect women, we set unrealistic standards that can never be reached. Personally I’d rather draw my energy from a woman who I can relate to, and I can’t really relate to Beyonce!
I introduce to you, real women. They are driven and passionate about what they want and to hell with anyone who tells them they cannot have it. These are the words of real women and their stories of what it is to be individually and collectively successful.
“When at a low point, my mother would always and still does say to me “You are Sarah Grimes, you can do anything, there’s nothing you can’t do”
Sarah Grimes is the drummer in the successful all-girl band, September Girls and the newly-formed punk band Cruising.
She took her beginnings in Waterford and there studied photography. After completing her studies she felt stuck and lacked the confidence in her abilities as a photographer to pursue her training. There were little to no jobs and a haunting feeling of not being able to really move on, so at 22, Sarah decided to move to Galway to study Media Techniques specialising in Radio. A self-described “home bird” this wasn’t an easy task but she knew it was the best thing for her. Sarah soon found herself immersed in the DIY music scene of Galway, feeding off the creative energy around her and feeling more positive about the future.
After settling into her stride in Galway, Sarah began to get the itch to start playing music again so she posted a message on a forum and that’s when she met Leon. They began practicing and writing songs together. Leon’s friend Paula’ soon joined their duo and voila – The Debutantes were born. They began playing gigs and recorded an EP, which sold out the cassette tapes that the UK record label Soft Power released. Unfortunately, things were proving difficult with The Debutantes, as Paula was Dublin-based and Sarah and Leon were Galway-based. Paula mentioned to Sarah that she was forming a new band in Dublin and asked would she be interested in playing drums. Intrigued, Sarah went to Dublin to jam and meet with the other bandmates – Caoimhe, Jessie and Lauren.
“It was pretty funny,” said Sarah. “There was no drum kit or hardware so we made do with an upside down stool as a snare sound and it just all worked out and felt right. So we decided that was it, we were a band, September Girls.”
Her creativity was nourished by her time in Galway but work was hard to come by, so Sarah began to think about her choices again. Most of us know that sinking feeling. My dad calls it “the wolves at door”: no food, no money, no ideas. Returning home to Waterford wasn’t an option for Sarah. Then be it fate or luck, a room in a friend’s house in Dublin was up for grabs. With youthful optimism, she went for it.
Anyone who has ever tried to find work in Ireland can relate to what happened next. The taxing hours of walking in and out of shops handing out CVs, continually asking friends ‘anything going where you are?’, wondering ‘why on earth did I ever leave home?’ and generally feeling depressed and disheartened, Sarah ran the gamut of disappointments. Signing back onto the dole, she just wasn’t where she wanted to be. She began to feel annoyed with herself and agitated by her solitude. Losing confidence is a danger when on your own in a new city. Her friends encouraged her to not give up and thankfully, things began to change. Her hard work paid off and she gained full-time employment. When the bills were safely paid, it was time to get cracking on her real motives for moving to Dublin – September Girls.
“I think there are a few contributing factors to where I am and who I am today” reflects Sarah, when asked what she feels are the significant steps in her success; “practice, patience, determination and encouragement from people around me would definitely be top of the list”
Reader, I’ve never encountered such a hard-working band before. September Girls are not only masters of their instruments and amazing songwriters, they direct and produce the majority of their videos and design their own artwork and merchandise too! All have regular day jobs, some even have children, but they haven’t let anything deter them from the purpose of creating music. These women are are truly professional musicians. When I asked Sarah what it was like to play in an all-girl band, she smiled as if she were used to, and tired of, the question. People often presume that a pretty girl couldn’t possibly be anything other then pretty. Sarah is determined not be seen as a ‘female musician’ but as a musician, period. She gives this advice:
“Don’t be put off by the fact that people will try and pigeonhole you because you are a musician and you are a female. Sometimes it’s like you’re instantly deducted three points because of that, because men are seen to be better at everything else but…just go for it. Don’t ever be put off by anything, keep going at it. Everyone has their own talent, if you’re not making music with the right people, find the right people or do it on your own. Be confident.
“Somewhere along the line the Media became some sort of god-like figure and set all of these rules and standards! I think people should do whatever they want and whatever makes them happy, within reason. Pay no attention to the people who don’t matter to you. Sometimes I see things that piss me off so much but I try not to take too much notice. I’d rather put my time into something more positive and creative than give into some ill-opinionated idiot.
“There are times when I get so frustrated and impatient and become a bit of a baby. Sometimes I let my mind dramatise things and I contemplate giving up playing music. Then I take a minute and reflect on what I’ve done and how far I’ve come. Most people don’t know this but when I started playing music, I was still in school and for years I used to have the worst anxiety attacks, at one point I missed so much school because of it. It was so horrible and it made certain things impossible, but I got through it. So when things get difficult I think about that time and feel proud of where I’ve come from and think about the love, patience and encouragement I received from my family and friends. I keep going as a thank you to them and I remind myself that if I was able to get through that time I can get through anything.”
September Girls have just released their new EP, Veneer, following on from their debut album Cursing The Sea in 2014. They are currently writing their second album. They have toured extensively across Europe and in America, playing major festivals including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and CMJ in New York City. Next for Sarah is a session in the studio, recording with her new band Cruising. The EP that Cruising released on tape sold out in a matter of days, again. There’s no doubt that she’s doing something right. Sarah attributes her success to her perseverance and her mother’s advice – “You can do anything, there’s nothing you can’t do“.
Words: Anna Davies
Photos: Killian Broderick