Phew… The topic I had set aside for Day 8 of my 30-days-of-blogging challenge is a big one, a nebulous one, and a little bit of a break from the general theme of what I’ve been talking about so far. I’m also (fair warning) running very low on spoons today and had to save writing until the very end of my day because (drumroll) I managed to get my COVID-19 shot today! I had to drive a couple of hours away to find availability, and I’m sure I don’t have to explain how all of this added up to a very small number of spoons left at the end of the day, but I’m thrilled to be vaccinated and still didn’t want to miss a blogging day, so just bear with me if today is a bit foggy and/or short. :)
I hinted at this topic at the end of yesterday’s post, and actually at the ends of (and throughout) previous posts as well. One of the guiding themes of the work I’m aiming to do here--by which I mean, one of the points I find myself repeatedly driving home in each of my posts and everything I do--is to communicate the following idea: You are Okay. Who you are is Okay. No, I’m not saying that everything you’ve ever done, every choice you’ve ever made was “okay” in the sense that it didn’t cause harm. I would doubt that--it’s certainly not true for me. But the bottom line, starting place, from which most real, important work (whether externally focused activist/advocacy work, or any kind of internally focused “self-work”) must start, is this: You are Okay. Who you are is Okay. It’s a deceptively simple concept, and easy to dismiss as a kind of meaningless platitude. And if you’re reading this and that’s all it feels like to you right now, that’s fine. That’s also Okay. Or, conversely, if you’re reading this and becoming agitated at just how much behavior is NOT Okay, and considering all of the people out there occupying space in the New Agey spiritual, self-help, personal growth world doing things which are distinctly not okay and claiming that it’s all okay for some vague, love-and-light reasons... Yes. Absolutely. You’re right, and feeling that rage and grief is also Okay, although I’d wager you do not need someone like me telling you that.
But what I see, consistently, across all the areas of life where I’ve been called to mentor, support, help, facilitate in any capacity--whether at my day job in a technical role, in hobby spaces with newcomers to the hobbies, or just informally among friends or community--is that this is the biggest thing holding people back from whatever their “next step” is. It’s not really that they’re struggling to understand some academic material--it’s that they’re not sure if it’s okay that they don’t understand--they’re not sure if they’re okay if they don’t understand. Or if someone has come to me asking for my advice on how to handle a delicate interpersonal situation, chances are what they’ve come away with is the knowledge that they do know how to handle it, and that what they already knew is okay.
It’s a theme I will return to numerous times no doubt, and not something for which I can cite resources to trigger an internet rabbit hole for you. But today, I wanted to plant that seed and see what inner “rabbit holes” start to open up for you. Consider this. Why is it that no matter what subject I teach, what topic I write about, or what context in which I offer “consultation” to a friend or colleague, what I consistently find myself reflecting back to the querent is the same? Why is it that in almost every case, what people derive the most value from when coming to me is not any particular expertise of mine, but simply the deep recognition that who they already are is Okay?
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