Oof, change is hard. Right? We know this. I know this.
One of the things I am trying to change is becoming more confident in my own personal and professional life — confidence in thought, leading to confidence in writing and speaking; confidence in listening, leading to confidence in understanding, disagreement, acceptance; confidence in love, leading to confidence in transformation…change.
I have so much work to do. I know this. We know this.
Part of that work has been this humble blog, started as a passionate, yet existentially fearful graduate student, and continued in fits and starts since then as motherhood, loss, therapy, and professional development has inspired me.
This summer I began contributing regularly to ACRLog — a professional blogging community of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) — in hopes it would challenge me to a more regular habit of writing and truth seeking. And I think it has helped me approach some issues there and elsewhere about which I have found myself previously hesitant. In my professional sphere, for example, with diversity, equity, and social justice; in my personal sphere, indigenous rights, generally and the #NoDAPL movement, specifically; and in the civic sphere, my duty to be more informed in this election. It is my response to the results of the latter that has me writing here again today, trying to break the silence that I find continues to paralyze me. If anything, though, I am beginning to get good and angry about it.
Weeks before the election when my girls asked who I thought would win, I was silent. All I could think and say was that whatever happens, I anticipate the uncertainty, violent discord, and injustice will remain. Digging into the election via my social networks (as just one path), I made concerted efforts to stretch my thinking all around, hearing and seeing people who I respect, and those I’ve struggled to respect, share, vent, and discuss, both civilly and angrily. I used my eyes and ears very openly, but I used my voice very selectively, limited my election posts to neutral facts, voting information, silly animals, and an autumn image of my polling station instead of an “I voted” selfie. As husband was following the election results last night and sharing worrying tidbits, I tried to remain unaffected, even suggesting that he stop watching. “Flee with me to the safe haven of denial!”, I thought. I find denial, though, usually leads to indigestion, or when fear and anger ultimately push through, then usually tears. Both are at least helpful in reminding me that I’ve gotten off track. Learning mindfulness and breathing techniques in response to these triggers helps, and is what got me to sleep last night.
But I’m gonna need more than tears, more than mindfulness, more than the distraction of work in order to face today, tomorrow, the next four years, and the larger goals I have for my life and my relationship with others. This became pointedly clear as I awoke to my youngest, who at 5:45AM was getting dressed, singing to herself “Party in the U.S.A”, and then just shrugged (read: attempted to suppress all actual feelings) at hearing the election outcome. It will take more than liking friends’ responses on social media to be able to find and speak with my own voice bravely in like manner. It will take more to respectfully honor and support my work colleagues and staff — those who took the day today, and those relieved at the election’s outcome. It will certainly take more than voting.
My own reactions to the election are more than just about the candidates who won or lost, although, of course there is still that. I didn’t want Trump to win, but I was not surprised. I sympathize with the anger and despair shared in response. But I know my own anger and sadness really points to a frustration at my paralysis, and the fear that comes with knowing that only I am responsible. Only I can change. I truly believe the thoughts, words, and actions of individuals affect a spiritual fabric that underlies real change, and that the converse is true as well. So, believing that, I accept that I am responsible, despite or because my silent intentions, for the lack of change I wish to see in our world.
I will continue to learn from and be grateful for friends, colleagues, feminists, artists, writers, who express themselves so boldly. I will continue to hold my leaders accountable and I will continue to vote. I will thank those who forgive me when I remain silent in fear, and those who support me when I show up, stuttering, rambling, and all.
I can and will continue to do hard things.