Hello, I’m Here To Take Up Space
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
We are the Co-dependence Generation. We’re the I’m So Sorry kids, Only If You Want To! kids, Don’t Worry About It! kids, I Don’t Care Where We Go For Dinner I Only Want to Please You For the Love of God kids. My peers and I are scolded for asking for what is right because that makes us Selfish, Demanding, Lazy, Ungrateful, and Delusional. We’re taught that we’re stupid because we don’t know who Van Halen is. We’re told we’ve ruined your industries, taken away your favorite Racist Comedians, burned your crops, and delivered a plague unto your houses. But you can’t identify that funny, niche cartoon reference I just made, so who’s the real winner here?
As a born and raised Midwesterner, taking up unprompted space feels like an Unconstitutional Offense. When planted in new or unfamiliar spaces, I’ve been consistently guilty of not talking unless spoken to, not moving unless others move, not blinking till the other blinks. A well-known studio recruiter once told me, “You are very unassuming.”
Un • as • sum • ing
Not Pretentious or Arrogant; Modest.
Huh. So, not offensive but not interesting, either? That one stung bit. At the time my emotional intelligence level wasn’t exactly above sea level, so I can’t say it was a turning point for me, but as I grew, I realized why the outside world would perceive me that way. It’s not that I am those things, it’s that I’ve been taught my real self was Too Emotional, Too Passionate, Too Much, so I must put the blockers on. I must make people like a very paired down version of me. Which isn’t me at all.
In high school, someone who I considered a good friend told me they didn’t like a movie anymore because I talked about it too much. I’ve been chastised for singing along to music in public. I’ve been told to stop crying. And unfortunately, I’ve told that same person to stop crying, too. Like teacher, like student. These things seem like minuscule moments that wouldn’t be stored in our deeper subconscious, but these experiences string together and have a habit of clawing under the skin in a subtle yet vicious way. Patterns arise, and we’re convinced we’re under a microscope at all times, waiting to be critiqued or judged. This teaches us to beat down whatever ounce of personality we have in order to show up as a shell that’s Unoffensive Yet Uninteresting. I have to actively remind myself that my existence is not conditional based on who likes me and who doesn’t. It’s exhausting. But I haven’t been doing it alone. Get yourselves a good therapist and a partner that tells you why you’re wonderful and beautiful and interesting, and maybe in a few years’ time, you’ll believe them. I’m hoping I’m starting to.
I once saw a tweet that said “Personally, I like Bisexual erasure. I hate being thought of.” As much as I laughed at it, showed my partner, and nearly made it my Facebook header, I don’t need more excuses for my subconscious to tell me I’m not worth having around. As I’ve been writing this blog post, I even started to worry that this is too long for people to read. It’s time to change the narrative. It’s time to suggest a dumb joke in a meeting knowing it’ll bomb. It’s time to say where I really want to go out to eat, and not just because it’s easier for you to get there. It’s time to stand up for what I believe in. It’s time to take up space.