Why I'm Frustrated and Tired Of Difficult Conversations But Won't Stop Trying
Everything is a hot mess. I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that. You can't turn on the TV or even veg out on social media, like the good 'ol days, without being reminded of the smoldering pile of funky ridiculous trash that's been burning endlessly. Indeed, everything is a hot sweaty, musky, steaming mess.
And to think, many of us are walking right through it face first with no protection (because, what could help) and sans medication.
Fighting the urge to just melt, right into the floor and become one with the carpet is the norm for me. That's how low I get. It's arguably the lowest point a person can get above ground so... carpet fibers and lint balls make room. We're about to get real cozy up in here.
But moving in with the lint balls and stray pet fur, that no amount of vacuuming will ever conquer, sounds good to the anxious mind, but it isn't helpful and it's not productive. It isn't going to change the world. And it will make detangling my already lint ball magnet afro much more difficult.
So onward we go. Keep pressing on. Even though the button on that remote broke, we've got to find a way to keep moving forward.
It gets harder when your heart wants things to change and your brain has trouble accepting that change isn't always lemon drops and sunshine.
Change can hurt.
Being a change agent isn't an easy task, even when you're called by God to be it.
In many ways, those who use their voices, bodies, talents, etc., to make an impact on the way people treat one another is a personal human sacrifice. When you boil all the social justice work, righteous protests, and even some misguided anger and hostility down, beyond being viewed as more than invisible people, it's a plea to the greater masses to be cared for; a plea for compassion.
I'll reiterate, because it's necessary, that some misguided anger and hostility falls into this bucket, not all. Because people really do be trippin'. And yes, I said "do be trippin".
I said what exactly I meant.
Equity and inclusion work is exhausting. Our brains don't turn off because we want them to, leaving our bodies aching and desperate for deep rest that it seldom receives. But we don't stop. We can't stop, even if the change we hope to see never comes.
But we're tired. We're so very tired.
Trust me when I say I'm tired of having difficult conversations.
You'd think that I'd be tired of having difficult conversations with difficult people, but that isn't the case.
I can tell a difficult person the sky is blue and of they insist on telling me how the sky is actually a reflection of the blah blah blah in the blah blah, I can tune them out. Clearly you're dealing with someone who wants to be right rather than listen to your perspective. There is a place and time to deal with them, and my patience are thin.
Abort conversation. Walk away.
Its much harder to have difficult conversations with well-meaning people. Conversations with these individuals require a specific skill set. A skill set that includes the superpower of being able to listen to them fully, before diving into the lesson of the day, all the while showing a tremendous amount of restraint and kindness.
Who are these people? I'm sure you know some of them.
People who don't understand that a human can fall into more than one marginalized group and can't comprehend the meaning of intersectionality.
People who have melanated skin, but were afforded the privilege of choosing to identify as white in America. They don't recognize the historical significance, risks, and impact associated with claiming a race that does not claim them, except on the census and government forms. Sigh.
People, who fight over the inclusion of women, but fail [miserably] in considering all women in all forms of ability, race, trans and queer identities, and socioeconomic status in their cause.
People who fight for their own visibility, but stigmatize the personal and emotional expression and self care of our men. Those who cry about being treated unfairly but continuously add to our men's trauma by belittling them and abusing them. As if they don't need the same love, temperance, and kindness that they're required to show others; less they face extreme consequences.
Aren't we supposed to love and care for everyone? Let me rephrase that question.
Are we only supposed give love and show care to certain people?
I am tired. But again, I cannot stop.
As I stare at my multicolored, low pile rug, preparing to sink in as close as I can get to the underlying floorboard, I am reminded that difficult conversations are necessary. They are required. If everyone avoided these heart wrenching, anxiety evoking, depressing as [UGH] conversations, no one would ever hear a perspective they've never heard before.
Sure, we don't have to be the sacrificial lambs all the time. Self care is important and a life need no matter who or where you are. But I do believe that, for those who are called to do the work of change agents, it's our collective responsibility to teach, when we are capable of doing so.
Let me explain.
1. If you don't speak, you aren't advocating for change.
For those of us who are grammar police, it's painful to watch someone use the words your and you're incorrectly. We often have to make the decision to either correct someone or let it slide as an easy [though frustrating] typo.
But when you see the same person incorrectly using the word 'your' for the hundredth time, it may be safe to say that they're simply unaware. Again, you face the decision of ignoring and cringing in silence, or using the moment as an opportunity to teach.
Depending on who you're dealing with, teaching may not be feasible, but if the person is receptive, your two-second grammar lesson could make a difference in whether their resume has a grammatical error and is tossed aside by recruiters, or not.
That seems dramatic but if you saw the improper use of a word on a resume would you take the candidate seriously? Probably not.
The same can be said about discussions of equity, inclusion, and a myriad of other important issues. If you do not take the time to teach someone the correct way of navigating these spaces, you aren't doing anything to lessen frustrations. We could assume that some people just want to be ignorant, and some people are mean for no reason, but I believe a lot of people are unaware or afraid to ask for guidance.
Imagine how speaking up could help them and those surrounding them.
2. Someone is waiting for you to put words to their experience and emotions.
People don't hear invisible people. I am a middle class, employed, able-bodied, cis-gender woman in America. I was raised by two loving parents who valued self-expression and individuality. I have no experience with addiction in the home and I have a plethora of wonderfully hilarious memories with my four siblings. In many ways, I am blessed. In many ways I am privileged. I recognize that.
In recognizing what I've been given in life, because everything I mentioned stems from circumstances that I did not personally control but were established for me and has helped me, it's important to also recognize that everyone does not have the same lived experience as I do.
I could walk around, tooting my own horn like "those people", but for what?
No amount of personal achievement or accomplishment will help anyone if you aren't willing to use your skills, talents, and privilege to help others. Period.
Speak up for the people who are voiceless or aren't heard. Show up for the people who others don't see. Remind them that while the masses may ignore their existence, people who genuinely care about them and for them still exist.
And do it because it's the right thing to do. You don't have to understand everything.
Understanding should not be a prerequisite for compassion.
3. You won't grow in comfort zones.
I talk about personal growth and development a lot. We continue to grow until we return to the dust in which we came. It's my belief that we are often put in precarious situations to teach us new lessons that will aid in our growth. By definition precarious means unknown conditions, a lack of certainty. It could also mean difficulty and possible danger.
No matter how you define it, life is full of precarious situations.
It's in these moments where you can either decide to navigate the uncertainty through perseverance and prayer, which will ultimately lead to personal growth, or melt into the carpet fibers.
Nothing good grows on a carpet.
4. Trying and failing is part of life.
You cannot expect everyone to embrace your ideas with open minds and open hearts. Being shut-out and shut-down in the midst a passionate conversation about equity and human decency can be a massive shot to the heart. The feeling can be demoralizing, making you question whether your efforts are actually making a difference at all.
In instances where the conversation has ended before it's even begun, rage is a common emotion that threatens to bubble to the surface. We're human and rage is natural and also necessary. But be careful how you express it. You don't want to cause more harm than good.
And if you fail to keep the lid on the rage container and spaz now and then out of frustration, it happens. Being a change agent is hard work. You won't get it right all the time.
No matter how diplomatic and gentle I try to be, sometimes I spaz. And when I spaz it's like a flood of glittery lava that covers whomever and whatever is in its path.
It's glittery lava because, believe it or not, there's an abundance of love, deep devotion, and compassion that flows alongside the molten lava of confusion, frustration, and anger that attacks people like a full on fiery avalanche.
I'm not perfect. I'm still growing and learning like everyone else.
We all have a journey. Be kind to yourself. Learn from your failures and keep moving forward.
And last but not least.
5. You can't sleep anyway, might as well get it off your chest.
I write most of my stories between 11 o'clock at night and four o'clock in the morning because my brain is racing and I can't sleep.
After years of clock watching my way through sleepless nights, I've learned that there's no benefit in keeping things tucked in my head and hoping I'd eventually stop caring about it, because I rarely stop caring about anything.
Instead of tossing and turning or endlessly searching Pinterest for craft inspiration, I find that writing out whatever is on my mind helps to calm me and gives me enough relief to allow me to drift off to sleep.
This won't work for everyone. And writing isn't everyone's forte. Whether you journal, talk it out in a voice memo app, pray, or read materials to help you cope, I guarantee you whatever you do will be better than watching the clock.
The battle for equity for all people is never ending but its worth the fight.
Be the person that chooses to do the right thing, not the person who just wants to be right.
And no matter what, keep moving forward.