In light of all the world events, protests, revolutions, and my wanting to be a better ally I’ve been thinking a lot about my voice. And how to best use it. The thing is: I’m not always comfortable speaking up or taking up space. I was raised to be “nice” and not “make trouble” and “please everyone”. But the fact is none of those things are really possible. Some trouble is good. I (and you) deserve to be heard. And nice isn’t always the best policy. So. I’m working on it. And while my thoughts here are from a few years ago, reflecting on how I can take up space this week helped me. Hope it helps you! XO RA
Sometimes topics come and hit you over the head, forcing you to pay attention to them. This week I was minding my own business, cruising the internet, when out of no where this article and this article kept popping up, on repeat. A sign? Maybe, maybe not; but when articles appear, I read them.
A note–I am one of those who have a hard time asking for the space I need (unless we are driving an then just try to sway into my lane–you have a horn coming). I believe in courtesy, compassion, and sharing-but a long line of waiting for others to recognize that I may need leg room/arm room/a seat has taught me that you have to take your space–others won’t give it to you. And yes, there are societal and gender issues at play; there are different types of space and different issues that surround each of them. I could write about them all but want you to not be reading till Monday! So, for today, let’s talk physical space–we can deal with other issues another day.
So space. We all need it– be it on a subway, an arm rest, on an airplane. So why do some of us have such a hard time asking for it? There are those who don’t–and yes, as a member of the former group I can be in awe, envy, and sometimes hate those who seem to take up all the space they need (and sometimes more) without a thought or care. Are those people inherently bad or selfish? I like to think not (yes, I could write about those who probably are). Some people just naturally take up space. I, personally, don’t–and it’s not that I don’t need it. I’m tall, I like to spread out as much as the next person, and know I deserve the sidewalk or public space as much as the next person. And it’s not that I don’t take space–it’s just that if others are taking up space (manspreaders, etc) or if the space is in debate (shared armrests), I tend to defer-not ask for space, let the other person have it.
So why? If I know I have a right to the space, why do I, and others like me, have a hard time asking for it? Maybe we expect people to notice what we need and give it to us–which has never worked for me. Maybe it’s years of training to be nice and not demand things–I’m a Southern woman, I know this. Maybe it’s a combination, maybe other issues come into play. I don’t know.
I do know that I believe every single one of us deserves to take up all the space we need. And if people aren’t going to give it to us, we’re going to have to take it. Is this hard for me? Yes, but the good news is we can do hard things. So this week I’ve gone out of my way to take up the space I need. A guy at the movies had his legs spread wide, I willed myself to say “Excuse me” (not “I’m sorry”, another issue), and even though I had to say it twice, he moved. At the gym I stood my ground and held my space at the mirror while getting ready. Moon-landing accomplishments? No. But a start. This doesn’t mean my voice doesn’t shake sometimes, or I find it easy; but if other people are asking for the space they deserve, why shouldn’t I?
Here’s the secret guys, there is enough space for all of us. And if you aren’t getting what you need, you are going to have to ask for it. I’d love to know–is this something you struggle with? How do you deal with it?
Wishing us all a week of space and amazing shoes! XO RA