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Corpse, Changeling or Asylum?

The Reality of the Past

By Natasja RosePublished 9 months ago 3 min read

it’s always fun to imagine who you might be if you were born in a different time.

A princess, perhaps, or a noted scholar. One of the decadent gentry, waited on hand and foot. A bold explorer? Someone sure to go down in the history books, obviously.

(The most likely probability is less heartening: you'd probably be another faceless peasant, toiling away for the benefit of those only superior to you by an accident of birth.)

But for some of us, the reality is less glamorous, and being born in the modern day, with modern medicine and technology, is the only reason we’re alive.

By Jonny Gios on Unsplash

If I was born in another time, would I even be the same person?

We are shaped by our experiences, after all, and no two societies are exactly the same. Social mobility is a relatively new concept, the ability to rise above what you were born and the opportunities to do so. For women, the ability to be more than a wife and mother was all but unreachable without an independent fortune and a very forward-thinking family willing to educate you.

Yes, female scholars existed throughout history, likely more than we know of, but the majority were overshadowed by the men they married and supported, who received the credit for their work. Those who never married were the exception, almost always from wealthy or influential backgrounds.

My grandparents were truck-drivers, a plumber, and a Receptionist-turned-mother/housewife. My maternal great-grandparents were Scottish Immigrants. In the 18th Century, my family were farmers.

A large part of my father's success is due to the computer industry, and his participation in the early days of creating the Internet (Thanks, Dad!). In another time, perhaps he'd have been an engineer, or maybe a clerk or accountant.

A century ago, when female education was less of a priority, would my parents have had the means to educate me beyond attending primary school? Two centuries ago, would I have been working in a mine or factory as child labor? Would I have died young from the dozens of childhood diseases that we now vaccinate for?

Assume I was the same person I am now, transplanted in another time period with my current knowledge (and hopefully enough time to grab few changes of clothing to suit the time period and valuables to barter off...)

I have a functioning Gaydar, so my best bet would be to marry someone who wasn't interested in me, preferably a wealthy man with a younger brother who could inherit after him, and make sure I'd be provided for as a widow.

Hopefully, I'd make it to widowhood without my big mouth and Neuro-Spicy quirks getting me accused of being a Witch or Changeling, or thrown in an Asylum.

Historically, the Past has not been kind to women who didn't fit the mold. Even the Present has plenty of room for improvement.

By Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

More likely, I'd have died at birth or as an infant. 3 months premature was only barely survivable in the 1980s. A few decades earlier, and my chances of living through infancy go down to infinitesimal.

If I did survive my childhood, I imagine I'd have two possible lives, depending on where and when I lived.

Perhaps I'd be a Courtesan or Mistress.

I'm a decent organiser and hostess, I pretty up fairly well, and I'd rock life as a Professional Beard for rich and influential men who needed an excuse for why they weren't doing their Civic and Familial duty of marrying and fathering the next generation. Fake-Dating and allowing my patron to spend time with his actual male lover would be risky, in a less-tolerant time period, but if I played my cards right, I could spend my life in the lap of luxury.

Perhaps I'd be a nun.

Present-Day Me is the furthest thing from religious, but joining a religious order was the go-to for women who didn't want to marry, and depending on the order, perhaps I'd have the opportunity to teach or care for the old and infirm. That lines up fairly well with my career in Disability and Aged Care, and I could think of far worse things to do with my life.

Overall, though, I'm happy with this life, where I can write, and have a career, and chose whether or not to have children, without fear of being institutionalised for who and what I am.

By NEOM on Unsplash

This probably wasn't quite what Vocal had in mind for this particular challenge, but it's my truth.

If you liked this story, leave a heart, a comment or a tip and share it around, and check out my other work on Medium and Amazon.

World HistoryPerspectivesNarrativesModernMedievalLessonsGeneralAncient

About the Creator

Natasja Rose

I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).

I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.

I live in Sydney, Australia

Follow me on Facebook or Medium if you like my work!

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Comments (4)

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock8 months ago

    Beautifully clear-eyed & candid.

  • Phil Flannery9 months ago

    It seems you have your past as well thought out as your present. Good luck with your future. A fun read.

  • Antoinette L Brey9 months ago

    I doubt life for females in the past was as great as it is portrayed in our modern day movies

  • Mariann Carroll9 months ago

    We all often wonder . Excellent take on the Challenge 👌

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