How are you doing? Yes, you. No, not the guy sitting behind you in the fedora. I’m talking to YOU. How are you? It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? If you’re feeling disheartened, angry, sad, embarrassed, or fearful – know that I am, too. Know that you’re not alone in your feelings, in your questions, or in your feeble attempts to move forward. I’m right there with you.
I’ve been trying to make myself feel better over the past few days, as I’m sure (and I hope) you’ve been doing for yourself as well. I’m realizing more and more that I am a part of two worlds. One world is the “Big World” – it includes my state and country and Earth, and everyone living within its boundaries. It includes the ideals and people within my profession. It includes the internet and social media. It encompasses all of the outside world and every person that I come into contact with, whether physically or internet-ly.
There’s also my “Little World.” It includes my job, and the coworkers and clients I see on a regularly basis. It includes close friends and family members. But truthfully, Little World is mostly just me. It’s my body and my brain. Little World is me when I’m alone at home, when I’m driving in my car, and when I’m at the grocery store. It travels around with me, and is never separate from me.
On a normal day, I often find myself doing things to pull myself out of my Little World. It’s hard, because I feel comfy there. But I actively make myself participate in the Big World. “Come on self, walk with confidence. Speak with confidence. If you pretend you’re outgoing and assertive, you’ll come across that way. Stop pushing down your feelings – tell people the truth. Share your ideas. Advocate! Defend! Empower! Support!”
But over the past few days, it hasn’t felt safe to be in the Big World, has it? We went out and made the choices we felt were right. We believed we were advocating for the greater good. We were being big-hearted. We were hopeful.
And then, in the blink of an eye, our hopes were dashed. And it’s been painful. And embarrassing. And infuriating. And possibly worst of all, it’s been terrifying.
So while I normally encourage myself to break out of my Little World and embrace the Big World, right now I’m giving myself permission to do the opposite. I’m allowing myself to get small – which, I want to emphasize, is not the same as feeling small.
For me, getting small and returning to my Little World means that I’m steering clear of the internet and social media – with a few exceptions. Rather than psyching myself up to break out of my shell, I’m seeking safety within it. I’m quietly checking in on my feelings and needs. I’m closing the door to the outside world when I need to. I’m letting myself feel disappointed and worried, without trying to logic my way out of it. I’m spending time with people who feel safe and comforting to me, and politely avoiding others.
And I’m also letting myself feel content and peaceful when those responses manage to bubble to the surface. I’m re-reading a favorite book that always makes me smile. I’m continuing to crochet new rows onto a blanket that has already gotten comically large. I’ve gotten somewhat sidetracked from my “Project,” but I feel proud of the work I’ve done on it so far, and I know I’ll return to it soon.
I even unleashed my inner weirdo long enough to send a gross picture of a centipede to my family and friends. And I felt inexplicable glee at their disgust.
I know I can’t stay here in my turtle shell forever, and I wouldn’t want to. Once I’m feeling grounded and steady, I may want to poke my head out of the shell and see what the Big World is up to. Maybe I’ll feel a little stronger and better equipped to take on new challenges. Maybe I’ll see new reasons to retreat back inside for awhile, and that’s okay too.
Returning to my Little World seems to help me a little. I don’t know if it will help you. I hope you find something in the next few days to bring you comfort and light and laughter, but I understand if you can’t. Know that I support you, and that I value your worth. Know that I see your hurt and confusion and fear. Know that I understand, and I feel those things too. Know that I care deeply about the fact that children are asking you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Know that I want answers, too.
Know also that we are together in this. I see you, and I am with you. If I have to point out the ONE aspect of beauty in this horribly ugly situation, it’s that we have each other. You and me, and our brothers and sisters with similar goals and hopes and values. We’re not alone.