Philippa (Pippa) Biddle is a 22-year-old writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of three websites, is a Youth Representative to the UN for the Jane Goodall Institute, is on the Editorial Board of The FBomb, and is on the board of Onwards, a non-profit that alleviates poverty through socially responsible tourism.
At 22 years of age you are a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. That is very impressive (I wont say what I was doing at 22). Where does your drive and inspiration come from?
Growing up I didn’t want to take over the world or do anything crazy, but I always knew that I wanted to be my own boss. Everything that I do is rooted in that desire. I believe that we create our futures, and I am working on creating one in which I have large amounts of mobility, freedom, and flexibility. When you have a good idea of what you want in life, even if you don’t know the exact path you’ll take to get there, it is easier to get yourself going every day. While each day might not be perfect sunshine and rainbows, you have that end goal to look forward to and to continue to work towards.
I also have a great set of parents who are inherently skeptical of everything that I do. They aren’t disparaging, and they are mostly supportive, but they don’t shower praise. I think that being surrounded by people who support you, but don’t send you flowers for every soccer goal you score, helps to build inner drive. I do things because I love them, not because I expect to be recognized for them.
You have been published in The Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and the New York Times Online, how did you break into this competitive world of freelance writing?
I cheated? But seriously, I have many friends who grind away every day pushing out blog posts for pennies per word. It’s a tough time to be a writer. I didn’t start writing with the goal of it being a career, so I think that I avoided some of that stress and pressure. I launched my first blog, pippabiddle.com, because I wanted to write regularly and felt like having it be online and public would hold me accountable for 1) writing and 2) not writing crap. It took a while, but after a year or so people started reading it. Early in 2014, I published a few pieces that got attention and they ended up being the main source of my freelance opportunities. One piece in particular absolutely blew up and that’s how I got in contact with the New York Times.
I’ve been really lucky that most of my writing gigs outside of my own sites have come from incoming requests. As far as I know, that is not the norm. Now that I am looking at writing as a career, rather than a hobby, I have to proactively look for opportunities, which is scary and is definitely a lot harder than having them come to you.
I advise young writers to not do what I did. Don’t wait around for a “big break.” Look for chances to publish and get your name out there. Write pieces that you are proud of and passionate about as well, even if you have to publish them yourself. Finally, be willing to promote yourself. It might feel awkward sometimes but if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will.
The F Bomb is a wonderful site for young women ‘who care about their rights’. What drove you to be a part of the site?
The FBomb was founded by Julie Zeilinger as a community and resource for teen and college-aged women and men who care about feminism and gender equality. I met Julie in 2013 when I was a student at Barnard College. While I only stayed at Barnard for a year, dropping out in August 2013 to focus on a startup, I was drawn to what Julie was doing with The FBomb. When the opportunity to join the Editorial Board of the website appeared, I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved. As an Editorial Board member I contribute to the site on a monthly basis and am involved in the development and growth of the site and it’s community of readers.
2014 is drawing to a close and it has been one hell of a year for feminism. What is your take on the current climate and what it means to be a feminist today?
Feminism is, at its core, about equality. There are radicals in every movement, and there are definitely radical feminists that may disagree with me, but I believe that feminism’s core ideology is the equality of all people. It is not about women dominating men. It is about every person having equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal freedoms. For example, I don’t think that it is possible to be a true feminist and be racist. If you believe that any person is worth less because of how they were born, you can’t truly be a feminist.
The idea of feminism has become twisted by a few loud voices into this hyper-aggressive concept that is quite far off from what it should be seen as. If you believe that your mother, sister, wife, daughter, etc. should be able to access the same resources as you, have the same opportunities for success as you do, and be recognized for their successes in the same way that you are, then you are a feminist. So yes, woman should be comfortable and confident identifying themselves as feminists, but men should be as well. The image of a “feminist” should not always be a woman yelling for change.
We need to celebrate people of all genders and sexualities as feminists to really get the message back on track.
You seem to be on the go all the time – do you primary work from home and if so how do you find time to relax?
I do work from home most of the time! While I sometimes cozy up in a café, most days you can find me on the couch or at my desk trying to keep my dog off of my computer.
To be entirely honest, I don’t really find writing all that stressful. It’s not like I’m in a war zone here. Most days, I’m surrounded by wine, chocolate, and have Netflix queued up for when I hit a wall or have to do research that is less than thrilling. I am able to travel around the world and can take my work with me everywhere that I go. Plus, getting to put my thoughts on paper for 6+ hours a day is pretty relaxing. Now, there are always deadlines that creep up without me, or a story that I just can’t get right, but that still isn’t the end of the world. When things do get crazy, I have an eastern healer who sticks needles in me (my palms are the worst). I am also addicted to Equinox but I think I usually leave there more stressed than when I arrived…probably has something to do with the cyclists. They are intense.
Photo credit: pippa biddle