Snippets of conversation overheard followed by derisive snorts and unflattering comments. Do I speak up now? Do I shield the ears of the nearby children from those harmful words, no matter at whom they’re directed? Or do I not rock the boat and remain silent?
The question – who do I want to be in a given situation – has come up with increasing frequency. It is the main reason I started this small slice of my website. I don’t want to be silent. I do want to be:
There weren’t a lot of “difficult conversations” around the dinner table when my sister and I were kids. We didn’t talk about current events. We didn’t learn about how to have differing opinions, how to have conversations about them. If there was an argument, I shut down as a childhood coping mechanism. I am learning to hone these conversational skills as an adult and learning new coping mechanisms.
It’s hard. As the recent U.S. election showed, I, like many, live in a cozy bubble with like-minded individuals. I’m not often having deep, meaningful interactions with people on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
When I encounter racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, sizeism, etc. face-to-face within my extended circles it forces me to confront the who do I want to be question.
I have a plan. I will be the person children can come to when they need an adult to speak with safely if / when they have questions. (Adults, you are most welcome to bend my ear too.) They will know this because I will tell them. I will challenge the status quo my way, speaking up – quietly, firmly – when I hear something that makes me uncomfortable. I will challenge my own preconceived notions and biases.
I will be someone I can be proud of.