To Take Up Space

Sometimes I get the urge to spill my guts–I have something to say, and I need somebody to pay attention.

The problem with this urge is I don’t always know what I want to say. I just want someone to listen to me. I want to know the words I’m saying or writing are reaching somebody, not just going up into the atmosphere like a forgotten balloon. When I speak, I want it to be important.

I hate small talk. I will engage in it, but I’d rather get to know somebody. I had a classmate a couple semesters ago who didn’t seem capable of small talk, and I envied him for it. Upon being put in a group together, he didn’t just talk about the papers we were reviewing for each other. He asked why. He asked why I chose my topic, why I am an English major, and he listened to my answers.

I have another classmate, a girl. She was talking to me in the hallway once–it was our second class taken together. When she was done speaking, she apologized. “I’m sorry if I’m bothering you.” I wanted to cry. What is it about being a little vulnerable that makes us feel guilty?

I want other women to know that we don’t need to apologize for taking up space, for making people listen.

It’s okay to need things. I’ve been trying to get better about that, telling people when I need something. I went through a prolonged experience where it felt like I was being punished for needing things, so it’s a mental block I’ve had to work on recently. It’s not wrong to need support. It’s not wrong to express your hurt. It’s not wrong to ask a person to fix what they broke. Easier to say than to believe though, right?

I’m also learning I’m not wrong to still be healing from the experience, even though it was a while ago. I can be over it one minute and then hear a song, which will fill me with the remnants of the past. I find that’s what happens most often.

This is why it’s important to find people who want to take up space with you. You should not exist in someone else’s space. But–you can coexist. You can take up space together, like reverse mitosis. And I’m talking about friends (or family), people who don’t mind when you make them watch the Mary, Queen of Scots movie or drone on about how you accidentally bought two planners. In fact, they want you to do those things, because they want you to take up space, to be the best version of yourself. I used to say all the time, “I’m not living my best life,” and a friend would ask, whenever something good happened, “Are you living your best life now?” She would ask this excitedly because she wanted it to be true, for no other reason than she cared about me.

So where do we find these people? I have no idea. I’ve been lucky with the ones I have–they are either family or were just in my life one day. Maybe that’s the way good friendships happen. You don’t know how you got there, but one day you realize you can’t imagine life without them in it.

I think it’s vital to tell people that, that you can’t imagine life without them in it. Other people need things, need to know they’re special, too. If everybody told each other the good they feel, maybe nobody would be worried about taking up space.

There are a lot of things I want for myself. I want to be happy. I want to be heard. I want to be sure of myself. But most of all, I want to be kind. I want to listen, really listen, when people talk to me. I’m working on all of those things.

One thought on “To Take Up Space

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