I took some time to reflect on what I've learned regarding self awareness. Not just accomplishments, like with my YouTube video, which is a testament to the outward work I've done, but the internal realizations and adjustments I've had to make throughout the year. It's not been easy, but it shapes me into who I am today and I love that person...mostly.
Every day is a day that I grow in some way. Sometimes it’s reverse growth, but more often it’s a microscopic lesson that it takes me months to begin to understand.
In 2017, I had to learn some hard lessons about myself and the decisions I make. I had to come to some realizations about the people in my life. I’ve had to step back from some relationships and make room for new partnerships. It’s been at varying times exciting, depressing, hopeless, joyful, overwhelming, painful, boring, and inspiring.
2017 was a year of causalities. Watching relationships go up in flames is a traumatic event. The more I’ve stood up for myself, the more I’ve asserted my right to exist on equal footing with my peers, the more I’ve seen them disrespect me. The more I’ve pushed back on that disrespect, the more disrespect and dismissal I’ve received. I’ve had to re-evaluate relationships that I thought were solid and realize that they are only solid if I’m willing to sit in the back until I’m needed. I’ve also noticed a lack of reciprocity in some of those relationships. And regardless of what I’ve earned, I’ve had it minimized to equate to their accomplishments, which are not on the same level. Even if it isn’t a competition, I’ve been reminded repeatedly that I shouldn’t think too highly of myself. It’s been enlightening.
In 2017, I’ve had to understand that despite my oppression, I have also been an oppressor. I have placed people I cared about in toxic situations and not protected them. I have been placed in toxic situations by members of other oppressed groups and been dismissed. It’s a cycle of ignorance, misunderstanding, and mishandling that has poisoned some of my relationships…and either we’ll recover and rebound stronger than ever or the distance will remain and possibly grow. Only time will tell.
I’ve had to admit that I have toxic people in my life and I’m still not ready to completely let them go. I’ve had to accept that sometimes I am toxic, and I need to keep working on rectifying that. I’ve had to accept help from people I don’t trust or like, and I need to come to terms with that. I’ve had to admit and accept that I’ve done hypocritical things and that I am not perfect. I’m human and I’ve grown in poison. Am I good enough despite that or should I destroy myself and start anew?
2017 was a year of realization. As I focused on building myself, I realized that there are people in my life who will challenge that. I’ve learned was that if you can’t respectfully work with me, you’re an obstacle, and obstacles get pushed to the side until they can be useful or destroyed. I’ve realized that I’m fucking tired of fighting for my space in relationships that should be equal. I’m not going to argue for my right to be heard with folks who are supposed to be working with me. I’m not going to beg for your time or your regard. If you don’t care, why should I? I’ll be sad. I’ll mourn. I’ll survive, and I’ll move on. Loss always teaches you that you will, eventually, move on.
I’ve had to ask myself again and again if I’m making progress when the ground is toxic. Am I growing when my growth is infused with poison? Are there things worth saving when every exchange and interaction is laced with anger, bitterness, and pain? Can I really change? Can they? Should we let all this die in hopes that we can build something better? Truth is, I don’t know. Time will tell.
I do know that the circle of life applies to all things, including dreams and relationships. It applies to projects and partnerships. It applies to aspects of myself that no longer help me. And letting it go will cause issues. It always does. History has shown that we’ll be fine, eventually…maybe.
Death of the old provides space for the new. I’ve met new people, created new, healthy dynamics built on foundations of honesty and respect. I’ve helped and been helped by people who, while not perfect, work to shift their understanding to be inclusive of our differences. I’ve created and maintained environments that helped people and I’m coming to better understand how I can help create spaces for those who are oppressed differently than I am. Will these relationships continue being nurturing and hopeful? Time will tell.
But I am open. I am trying. And I am growing. Hopefully we’re all growing.
And sometimes that growth needs death to flourish…