I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like these last few weeks have been rough. It feels like everything has changed and also hasn’t changed at the same time. People are spray painting swastikas on the doors of synagogues but this kind of hateful racism isn’t new at all. The election just invited these people to be more vocal about what garbage humans they are. I won’t mince words – these people really suck – calling them “garbage humans” is letting them off easy. I’m a compassionate person, but not that compassionate.
Everything’s changed and nothing has changed.
I can’t help but feel this urge to get out there “do more” but I also want to be intentional in what I’m “doing” and not waste energy and accidentally end up on the wrong side of the fight. I also know that falling into my old habits of burning out and needing to please won’t contribute to any meaningful change either.
Last Saturday I found myself shouting with a crowd of Anti-Trump protesters. I looked around at one point, realizing we were all coming from such different political backgrounds and it was hard to imagine we had all shown up for the same cause. What even was the cause? To be against the values this guy stands for feels so obvious it shouldn’t merit a demonstration and yet I think it did. To continue this post’s theme of paradoxes, it was obvious and it was also totally confusing.
But I remind myself that this is what being a white activist is all about. It is an uncomfortable place to stand and it’s supposed to be. It’s the balance of speaking up and listening. It’s the balance of showing up and not taking up too much space. Educating and learning.
At my peak discomfort I remind myself that what I experience is only a microscopic fraction of the discomfort experienced by those I try to fight for.
Like many activists, I’m wary of the term “ally” because I don’t want my support to be for self-serving, temporary reasons. “Ally” can imply a badge you put on and take off. And just “doing” is fine but it only goes so far. From my limited experience of the world, I think what really counts is a commitment to being a person who lives in a way that inherently creates change – in our inner circles and in the world at large.
When we think about who we are “being”, the “being” becomes an umbrella for the “doing.” It means all of the “doing” comes from the same place – intentionally, authentically. And I think the “right” doing for you comes more naturally when you know who you are.
Of course this “being” vs. “doing” idea is not my own and my awareness of it comes directly from my going to a life coach and being trained to become a life coach.
So many women I know – myself included – fall in to the trap of needing to be so many different people and we do so much to achieve this that we just end up wound up and exhausted. When we finally do stop – because our bodies, brains and souls force us to – we finally face ourselves without all the doing. It’s sad that it takes a burnout for so many of us to realize who we really are.
Knowing all of this, I’ve been especially dedicated to self-care lately. This is partially because I’ve been aching for the world and want to be in a better place to actually create some meaningful change and partially because I’ve been feeling lonely. I’m ashamed to admit it – it seems so self-centered in light of all that’s happening right now – but I’ve been feeling really, really lonely lately. And when I’m feeling lonely, I open up my copy of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey to this page:
I read this and then I sleep a little longer. I paint my nails. Light my candle. Because I know it’s worth doing what I need to do in order to show up as who I want to be in the world.
Who do I want to be?
Interestingly enough, I want to be a bit of a paradox. Loud, wild, liberated, yet serious and dedicated. I want to live inside the joke that’s funny because it’s depressingly true. Confident and authentically terrified. Leopard print and farm boots. Laughing through the tears. Present and lost in a dream.
And also this: willing to be wrong, but always fighting for what’s right.