On Joining the Forbes 30 Under 30 List

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Well, shit. I'm on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. 

I’ve never been on any sort of list before, nor received any sort of award. I once won a raffle in the third-grade walk-a-thon in which my prize was some butterfly stationery - I was so excited I’d won something that I never used it, and still have it in storage at my mom’s house.

So I'm still finding this a little unreal. And as unbelievably thrilled as I am, if I'm honest, my head spinning and I'm not sure which way is up.

Because, also, in the past two weeks, I've:

  • Split with my partner

  • Started looking for a new place to live

  • Found out I have to leave London for the summer due to visa issues

  • Decided to apply for a PhD

I can't even begin to articulate how bizarre it is to have to have one of the lowest moments of my personal life followed so closely by an all-time career high. I must give massive kudos to my therapist for helping me build up a higher degree of resilience than I even knew I was capable of, but still, everything at the moment is just leaving me in an emotional puddle. My reaction to any emotion, high or low, seems to be tears on tears. 

And though it's actually terrifying to talk about all of this in such a public way, I think it's also incredibly important to remember that no matter what shiny and bright things we can share on Instagram, we're all just humans, stumbling through life, and in my case, a little heartbroken (and isn't it amazing how that can overshadow everything else?). 

So by the time the 30 Under 30 List was rolled out, I was emotionally spent from all the change I was processing. I didn’t know what else to do but to burst into tears - out of relief that I’m not a fool for throwing my all into CFFP, out of sheer emotional exhaustion, out of fear for the unknown ahead, out of excitement for the potential this opportunity presents, and out of utter gratitude that my hard work is being recognised in such a way. 

I also fully recognize that joining such a list provides me with access to a very exclusive network with very exclusive opportunities. So I can't help but feel a slight twinge of discomfort and question if I am becoming part of the very nepotistic inner circles that CFFP/I am so critical of. And I've been mulling over whether this train of thought is imposter syndrome getting the better of me, but I also feel that given the line of work I do, this type of self-reflection on the privilege I can leverage to promote such a feminist agenda is critical to keeping that agenda, well, feminist. 

Ultimately, I settle on this: it's incredibly powerful to have Forbes throw their weight behind not just CFFP but feminist foreign policy as well. I'm sure they add people to the list who might not entirely line up with their organizational values one way or another, but still, I'm also sure they wouldn't champion people whose work falls too far out of the scope of what they deem to be a solid idea. And any recognition I receive, really, is for feminist foreign policy and for the hard work of an entire team of wonderful feminists, and it is truly exciting to see it all becoming so mainstream.

This past year has been one long and incredible lesson in letting go of control. I less and less have interest in marking the things in my life as "good" or "bad" - it's all just a very, very bizarre adventure, but it comes with a silver lining - if I want to find it. And it's all the more reason to celebrate the victories along the way. I don't see the point in waiting for the joy, or looking for happiness - it's already here, even in the tough moments.

And every once in a blue moon, something so wholly wonderful will happen to make me think: well, yes, the chaos is worth it after all. 

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I’m Marissa, a feminist, entrepreneur, and creative dedicated to making feminist foreign policy a global reality. Learn more →

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