Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Here's a space for you.
When I was a high school English teacher, we would journal twice a week, every week. Tuesdays and Thursdays were journal days, and the kids knew from day one that as soon as the bell rang, it was time to write. I would put a prompt up on the board and they could choose to answer that for 10 minutes, or freewrite instead. I would never read what they wrote, unless they wanted me to- I only cared that they were writing. Sometimes kids would shyly slide me their journals after class and say things like "Hey, Mrs. Hampton? You can read this if you want." And I would. And so many times I would be hit so hard by the genuine, raw, naive beauty of these teenagers' writing in the telling of their stories. The big stuff, the little stuff, all of it.
And I think about that a lot. All of these kids in my classroom, all writing their story. Even if they were best friends with similar kinds of lives, joint interests and intertwined circles of friends, their stories couldn't be more different. And I would tell them this all of the time- there is only one you. Just one! It's such a simple thing to say and also hear, but especially powerful in terms of writing. Anything you say, as long as it comes from an authentic place...that's yours. Your story. And no one else's can ever be exactly that.
This idea can seep into other aspects of life too, right? The concept that there is a place for you, always. Space for your voice, your story. When you're being authentic, you can't help but attract others who are on your same wavelength. Know who you are, love who you are, and honor the place that's set out for you, because you matter. But then I write that, and I can't help but think of how each of those things are so hard to do on their own, let all at once. It's a whole process, I think, each part piggy backing on the former. Know yourself, love that person you've become, then allow yourself space to be that person. I'm somewhere between the second and third step right now, I think. I can remember very distinctly when I was right smack dab in the middle of the first, and that was hard. But it's a cycle anyway, and of course I'll be back there again. Life, man.
So. A space for me, and a space for you. When we tell our stories, we allow others to do the same. When we share who we are, unapologetically, it gives others permission to share as well. By making a place for us, we make room for someone else. And I'm asking myself- how can I be a better space-maker in my world? How can I encourage the people I love to feel comfortable being themselves, comfortable doing their thing? Because that's what I want- to be surrounded by all of these people I love, who feel so good about being exactly who they are. That's happiness.
So we'll start here, yeah? I'm gonna try to share more in this space, and I hope you feel like you want to do the same in yours, wherever that space may be. Meet ya somewhere in the middle.