I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall lately when it comes to contributing to my community. It’s not that I don’t want to participate. It’s more like every time I try to, I freeze. This isn’t exactly surprising for me, and I’ll tell you why. We all know about the Fight or Flight response. What they don’t tell you until you hit Advanced Mental Health Status is that there’s a third ‘F’ and that ‘F’ is Freeze. I am a freezer. Not the kind that keeps your popsicles solid, no, I am that gazelle in the African Savannah who hears the lion coming and decides that the best course of action is to stand perfectly still and hope that the lion thinks they’re dead. Let me tell you right now, as a gazelle, it doesn’t usually work.
I love being an active part of my communities- and there are a lot. My friends used to refer to me as the Uber Minority, which makes me sound like some sort of awesome Transformer type robot. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and it more means that people kind of tilt their heads when they first meet me. They know that there’s something different about me, but they can’t tell what it is. Sometimes they try and guess, which depending on my mood, can be a lot of fun. Given my combination of identities, no one ever guesses perfectly right, and honestly, if they did, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I’d probably off up some sort of prize. Probably a Tangle, as I have a bunch, and always have one on my person. Not my fuzzy Tangle though. Hopefully, they’d appreciate their prize.
A lot of communities mean a lot of opportunities to interact. There’s National Eating Disorders Month, Autism Acceptance Month, and Pride Month, just to name a few. All of these usually make me really enthusiastic about being active on Tumblr and Instagram, and even here on this blog. But it doesn’t be a surprise to you that every opportunity that’s come up this year has made me freeze. Activity on all of my accounts dropped off suddenly, and I hate it so much.
I’ve been trying to work my way back up. Luckily, I had submissions I could use on my Tumblr blog (check it out!), and was at least still comfortable liking things on Instagram- things with minimal interaction, and that didn’t require me to put myself out there. Because let’s face it, I’m a bit of a coward.
At least that’s what it feels like. If I think about it without beating myself up, it’s more like I’m a perfectionist- a perfection that when combined with my intense need to be a good advocate and a good disabled person, freezes me in my tracks.
But that’s an awful lot of pressure to put on myself, isn’t it? I can say it, I’m not sure that I really mean it. So let me put it all out there. It is not my job to represent every person in my community. It is not my responsibility to be witty and eloquent so strangers will pay attention to what I have to say. IT IS OK for me to explore my identities publicly, IT IS OK to share my opinions, and IT IS OK to say things that others in my community disagree with (as long as I am respectful).
I can take chances, make mistakes, and get messy and the world will not end!
Doesn’t all that sound great? How awesome the world would be if we were all able to go through life unafraid of trying, even if there was a chance of failing. Clearly more easily said than done. But if therapy had taught me nothing, it’s that baby steps are always the way to go. So:
I will keep to my Tumblr post schedule (but not kick myself if I miss a day)
I will keep writing (even if the end product doesn’t get posted here)
I will have fun posting things to Instagram (and stick around to see what my friends are posting too)
I will participate (and I’ll try to remember why I enjoyed participating so much in the first place)
And lastly, I won’t get down on myself when things aren’t perfect.