Social change angst is not new for me. I’ve been attracted to those who self-marginalize for as long as I can remember. Not because I wanted to follow them to the risky places, nor because they needed rescue or some other condescension, but simply because I wanted them to know they didn’t have to go there.
That other place always scared the *shizalea out of me. Sometimes bad things happen when you give up on yourself and step out of the light. I learned early that sometimes friends stepped out of the light BECAUSE bad things were happening. That’s what first activated me to care for others, deeply.
Now, I’m all grown up, and sadly aware that bad things happen even when we stay in the margins. They look a little different, and they get closer to you before you see the shine rub off, and sometimes, because of that, they take you by surprise.
We live in a tricky system – all set well before the current “we” coalesced. There is not one bad guy to target. There is not any one thing that keeps it alive. To the contrary, there are far too many to count, and we all fuel it.
I believe more people than ever are trying hard to change things, but there are still these narrow little windows we want each other to fit through. They exist for all things we notice and critique in one another. No one likes them, and yet we can’t seem to fully acknowledge they persist.
They tackle our physique, and how we adorn it, the frequency with which we smile, our exercise habits, and what we eat. They constrain how we show our love, what we say – or don’t say, and so much more.
Talk, care, be nice, but do not go overboard. Be pretty, but not too pretty, for if you are too pretty, you will be met with equal measure of privilege and cruel judgment, and that is an ugly sea to navigate.
Our awkward indiscretions pile up. We feel exhausted by each other, and yet we need each other for survival. Too often, we split off, or others clip us off. We are told to strive for deep connection, for authenticity, and to be vulnerable, resilient, and brave in our naked humanness.
In doing that, we sustain little but mighty jabs, like the prick of that one spindle. Our sleep, however, is the soft blanket of depression we wrap ourselves in, to protect, power down, reevaluate, and regroup for the next attempt. We assure ourselves we will make it through that window.
“This time, I will be just grounded and comfortable enough to come across as worthy!” But we forget we are supposed to be comfortable, for others…
I write a lot about this, our world being a hard place. Yes – there is incomprehensible beauty, AND things are not always sunny here. To be with one another, we take risks, whether we stay inside the lines or stray to the tall grass.
But there is no window to measure ourselves against. There is not some ridiculous balancing scale, one side filling with all of our inept human moments, that will launch us into the landfill one day. We are not fodder for one another’s self worth, and we all need to put down our too small window frames.
* one of my favorite flowers.