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Create your own safe space

Our lives go through seasons. Some we can forecast, some we never even see coming. As we are growing up we can typically expect that we'll face a transitional season as we move from elementary to middle then to high school. We go through a season, some sooner or more intense than others, when we move from preadolescence to our teenage years. We learn to navigate our desires for independence and our choices for individuality. When we leave high school and move into the phase of young adulthood, there's a whole new world of lessons presented to us. As we progress into different milestones of our adult lives we face different seasons when seeking a life partner, when becoming a parent, becoming homeowners, and so many more life steps that we think we can forecast. Then there are the ones we don't see coming. You don't plan for divorce, for the loss of a loved one, for career shifts, for a pandemic, or for any other struggle or trauma one could face. Nonetheless, we go through these seasons.


What I've noticed that makes it easier to navigate through some of these seasons is a support system. When you're younger, that might be your parents or your family of origin, your teachers, or your friends. As we age, we collect more life experiences (good and bad), and those experiences can affect how we engage with a support system. For some, it may help us expand our support system and for others, it may influence us to withdraw from our perceived support system. I could write in great detail on that in itself, and maybe I will one day, but for now I will say that we don't all react to life's events, tragedies, celebrations - life's experiences - the same and therefore, we don't engage with the world around us the same. But that doesn't mean that a support system isn't needed or longed for.


You may have heard someone say (or maybe it's you who says it, either way it's okay), "I don't have anyone" or "No one gets it" or "You just don't understand." I know I certainly have. To which I always have the urge to shout from the rooftops, "But you do! You just have to find them. That's a choice that you are in control of and can change that at any point in time." Did you hear me say, "of course you do - just look around at work or your neighborhood or church"? Did you hear me say, "of course you do, it's easy"? No. No, you did not. I said you have to find them.


Want to know what I've learned about what "finding them" might look like? It can look like a support group like AA, NA, or PFLAG. It can look like hiring a therapist or a coach. It can look like a book club, a Bunco group or a running group. It can look like a social media post or a blog. It can look like many things and spaces. Some of my best support I actually pay for through therapy and coaching and the books I read. It doesn't have to always be a two-way channel, because sometimes we aren't ready for a two-way channel. We just need to sort our shit out in a safe space. And I've got news for you, we all need therapy my friends. Side bar, can we please just normalize that mental health care is self-care? Jeez, it's 2022 already, haven't we figured out by now that we're all a little mental and that seems damn near normal at this point!


Here's the second thing I learned about what "finding them" looks like: it takes vulnerability to genuinely connect and find your people. Yep. Did anyone else's stomach just contract and turn and nausea surfaced when saying the word "vulnerable"? You guys, my body has a physical reaction to the word. Please don't tell Brene' Brown. Or wait, maybe you should and I'll get a personalized one-on-one with her and can then expand my tribe there too! Either way, vulnerability freaks me out. Why? Because if we're vulnerable then we are susceptible to rejection, judgement, or abandonment. I've learned that the wall I try to keep up (sometimes it's thick, sometimes it's paper thin, sometimes it's only a pony wall, but it usually is present regardless) doesn't just keep other people from getting in but it keeps me from fully letting myself out. How can I find my people if I'm not letting myself be me in my fullest form? Y'all, genuine connection takes vulnerability. Yeah yeah, Brene', I know you've been trying to tell us this; I'll re-read the book!


My point is that we really are in control of building our support systems, of finding our people, of creating connections so that we can navigate through our hard seasons with the strength of others helping us through. And as a wonderful byproduct, we are likely creating a beautiful, safe space to support others when they are in need and we're creating a caring place to celebrate all of our joys as well. And that's my hope for this blog. It's an outlet I'm choosing to create because life is a journey and I know I'm going to have more experiences, some forecasted and some unseen, that I'll want to share the lessons and the struggles in because I know that it just may be the space for someone else to read and for a moment, they'll know that they are not alone. That while my exact moments may have been different than yours, they have enough similarities that they're relatable. And when we can relate, we can connect. And when we connect, we encourage. And if I can encourage or inspire one person to keep going, to feel one sigh of relief, to feel normal for a second, then the space just became safe for both me and you.

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