We live in an amazing world. Everything is changing, and it is changing by the second.
More and more by the second, those with internet access have the ability to see what life is like for people around the world and in walks of life incredibly different from their own.
This is amazing, yes, but I think it can be terrifying, too. I see behind some fearful assertions questions like, “How the heck am I supposed to take in what someone else feels and believes if I don’t even know what I feel and believe yet? How am I supposed to answer questions today that couldn’t have existed outside science fiction a decade ago?”
I am exhilarated by the change. I’m thrilled to be living in this world where objective and subjective information is becoming ever more available, if I’m less thrilled by how easily the subjective is currently confused for the objective.
My fifteen-year-old self dialed up local bulletin boards in the early 1990s. She thought it was amazing to connect to dozens of strangers in her own community. After she created her own website in 1995, she was even more astonished when she began receiving emails from around the globe. She suddenly understood the world to be so much smaller than she’d realized!
Fifteen-year-old me would be flabbergasted by 2016 reality, which is that people around the world will soon experience connectivity in ways we can’t fathom today. The horror lover in me finds this a little creepy, but most of me thinks the world will probably be less lonely and less exhausting as we learn to see the commonalities underlying all the apparent differences between people. Read more…
Two weeks ago, I canceled a lunch walk with a friend.
I cited “introvert overload” after an especially exhausting morning with my kids. I sent her a link to “This introvert’s bubble” so she might see my cancellation not as a blow-off but a necessary self protective measure. (She did!) Read more…
If we were having coffee, I’d pass on the coffee and have some minty tea instead.
I’d explain that I spent the last several days in San Antonio, Texas for work, and that I drank at least twice as much coffee as usual to rouse myself after awakening so early each morning. There’s still so much surplus caffeine coursing through my veins that I need to back away from it today for any chance of decent sleep tonight.
I had this funny idea as I departed for Texas that I’d have tons of quiet time to soak in the tidiness and space of my hotel room. I’d get the kind of I’m-an-introvert dream break that I’ve been craving since I learned firsthand–almost two years ago–that finding a little breathing room is about a million times harder with two young kids than one.
I’d shake my head with a rueful grin. I could not have been further off! For starters, being away from my kids was more physically and emotionally exhausting than I’d realized it would be. After the stress of flight, the working hours were longish and heavily interactive. Then, after each workday was over, more discussion ensued over long dinners. I experienced approximately none of the introvert wind-down I’d envisioned as I packed dreamily early in the week. Read more…
I flew to Chicago to shave my head in March 2012.
I was excited throughout the trip, but equally anxious. At the time, I thought that I was anxious about the event itself.
Today, I’m much less certain about that.
When I flew to Chicago almost four years ago, I flew with a breast pump. I flew knowing I’d nursed my little man for the last time. The pump was just to relieve pressure. Read more…
Flying to Oregon recently, I saw a young mother wearing a hijab a few rows ahead of me and my children.
I felt wordless apprehension when my eyes landed on her husband: What if he’s one of them?! are the words I’d assign to such apprehension. What if he’s a terrorist?
I was horrified with myself the moment I realized what had happened. There was nothing in my environment that would reasonably lead me to conclude either the husband or wife were anything other than another family in transit, which meant I was judging them based on factors outside our immediate environment. I was judging them based not on their own acts or demeanor but an aspect of their appearance, evidencing implicit bias.
When we all prepared to deboard soon after, the family made its way toward the rear exit. I’d walked myself away from my unfounded suspicion, so that I was no longer paying attention to them. I was thinking of the trip and my boys and a million other joyful things.
I propped my toddler on my hip as I waited for my opening to enter the exit aisle. I vaguely noted Littler J was grinning, and so followed his eyes to the target of his grin: the Muslim family’s toddler, propped on Mom’s hip and grinning back at Littler J.
My focus quickly rolled away from toddler to mom. My eyes met hers and we burst into mirror smiles.
“Fearmongering works!” I reported when later recounting my initial apprehension to my husband. (“Yep.”)
I find hope in Littler J’s smile. I will do what I can to sustain that, so that as he grows
he sees not fearful, bias-inspired could-bes and acts instead on
what he does see: the joy and love actually present.
This post inspired in part by my just-younger sister’s MLK, Jr. Day post.
For more on my journey of facing my own implicit biases, this post is a good jump-off point.