I have often found myself subduing myself for the sake of others – at work and in my personal life – and in so, fail at claiming space. I used to barge and wrangle with others to try to get them to see my worth. I was very vocal and not often heard. Now, I stay quiet and go inward to evaluate my current situation. In this, I often find that I give too much space to others where I should take up some of my own space. By this I mean that I give them space in my mind enough to let it shrink me into obscurity when I interact with them. When I remain quiet, I claim my space. I do not let the actions and words of others disturb my current state of mind.
When we are put into situations where we have difficulty claiming space, we can suffer from low self-esteem, feelings of low self-worth, and disconnection from humanity. Even if we are subordinated to the point of being demeaned, we can claim space. This state is not dependent on others granting you space. It is all yours. The only challenge is that we’ve been taught by society to grant more and less space for certain people. Invariably, this leads to structures of hierarchy that promote ranking each human being’s worth on a given set of principles that benefit the top of the chain.
Claiming space is simply recognizing that I have a place in this world, whether others like it or not. Luckily for my sake and the sake of others around me, when I claim space, I come more into alignment with my power. With this power, I can make myself well enough to interact more consciously and purposefully in this world. When we focus on our wellbeing, we are able to do more in this world and for this world.
After a rough and grounding week I decided that I needed to make some moves towards a minimalistic lifestyle. I’ve come back to minimalism again and again since I was a teenager. I would purge and then realize I needed something I gave away, get upset, and start gradually accumulating again.
Bringing new possessions into your home seems innocent enough, until they start to cloud your thinking and you realize you’re always misplacing things. I’ve also noticed that when I have more, I feel the need to get more. When I have less, I stop getting overwhelmed by my surroundings and remember that I enjoy to do things like write and read.
Today, I spent much of the day going through my closets. I have three – living room (for sports equipment), bedroom (for clothing and travel gear), and hallway (for household supplies). From my living room closet, I was able to reduce down a lot of my unnecessary paperwork. I condensed everything to one central binder that holds all of my important documents.
From my bedroom closet, I reduced my shoe collection by half (and plan to reduce more). I also went through all of my clothing and sold some items at Buffalo Exchange. I didn’t get much money for them, and it was another great reminder that it’s vital to make smart purchases because you won’t restore the money you spend by selling.
I gave away a lot hobby items – cross stitching and instruments. These are hobbies I wanted to take up but never got around to getting serious about. The objects were making me feel under pressure to enjoy the hobbies more when I did dabble. I had to make a decision as to whether these were hobbies I wanted to continue pursuing, or if I thought the items looked cool or made me falsely feel like I was engaging in those hobbies.
I also got rid of more books. I recently purged about half my collection but it was time again to revisit my book cart since there were a few stragglers. I’m still having a hard time letting go of a pile (probably 20-30) notebooks. I’ll come back to them at another time.
The kitchen is overwhelming so I held off on it. There are cups and pantry items and baking dishes. I plan on replacing my plates, mugs, and bowls with handmade ceramics though so the slow change is fine right now.
Even just today’s work has already alleviated some of my anxiety with my apartment and freed some room for me to think and write this blog post. I want my apartment to be a simple space where I can do yoga, meditate, and spend time writing and reading. With all of these possessions, I’d forgotten the important few things that bring me a lot of joy.
I look forward to getting to know my space again and making it more sacred. The past week has shown me that it is hard to process emotions and circumstances in the flow of daily life. We burden ourselves with so much when we get home from work. It is more critical now for me than ever to give myself room to breathe and grow and sit in silence with less things.
It starts off as a trickle and turns to a flow then a flood. Thoughts whirl about, blending reality with imagination. And through all this, we are called to remain. Not to act well in the midst of it, but to live it. We are prodded by the universe to shed ideas we had about ourselves and our outside situations. We are engaged in the momentary lapse that is altering our course every day. It is not that we were meant to live a certain way.
I have always given myself allowance to change course in fully fledged earnest, when it was necessary. But I always felt like I was keeping my head down in anticipation of the next big life changing event. Sometimes, I would prompt these myself, by moving and changing jobs. There has been a large level of control I’ve tried to have over situations. And while I could direct larger courses to my life, it is the day to day that I have always struggled with.
Uncertainty has rested in the day to day because I have an easier time making big decisions than I do being in the aftermath of them. Rather than let life take its course, I have let society infringe its ill ideals onto me. I have let this deride me and move me farther and farther away from who I feel I am. I have let society form parts of my identity that it should have no hand in.
Where I should have waited, I jumped into action. Where I should have jumped, I waited. But these habits of mine are also necessary because they have taught me that I need to be still and sit in the places of discomfort. I need to do this so that I understand more deeply that I am not the external factors in my life. I am not even the thoughts in my head. I am the breathing house for the soul inside of me that understands uncertainty as a gift.
I’ve had a deep interest with self-identification since childhood, when I was asked odd questions like “what’s your favorite color”? Since then, I have taken on a number of personas that I’ve intentionally tried to deeply integrate into my life. In high school, I was the swimmer, surfer, and water polo player. In college, I was the good student. I had different set identities that engulfed me and drove me to spend a lot of time doing what I was doing.
There was always a lot at stake because I grew up in an abusive, broken household. And when I paid myself through college, I couldn’t jeopardize losing everything (which did end up happening). When I entered the job market, things felt all the more at stake. I had always been accountable for all of my living expenses and performance, but now I also felt accountable for defining myself within the realm of the professional world.
That meant putting a name to what I do. I need to feel a deep connection with what I do because I put importance on putting my name on my work. But I have not yet felt that. And even after receiving multiple degrees and attending coding bootcamp, I still feel completely and utterly in misalignment. When I go to work, I am playing a role and that role is not me. It is split, and that’s where I think a lot of my anxiety comes from.
There is a disjoint between who I feel I am, what I know feels right, and what I do with my time. That is not to say that I am suggesting that I should always be sipping coffee at a local shop, or volunteering. But to me, this suggests that there is an unshakeable desire within me to find work that makes me feel as if I’m not living two totally separate identities – the me inside work, and the me outside work.
This feeling of disjointness manifests itself in ways that are detrimental to my mental, physical, and spiritual health. When I get off work, I am thrust into recovery mode. And every time I am back in alignment with myself, it’s time to hop back into my work persona. The weekends allow me to be myself, but that cannot make up for the five other days. Physically, I have been enduring aches and pains from tensing and holding. I feel the energy of that tightness rushing through me as I sit to write this. It’s very real and very visceral and very likely psychosomatic.
When it comes to my spiritual health and living at least two personas – work and self – I can pinpoint that anxiety comes from that disjointedness. There is nothing as stressful in my life that I cannot tolerate and better as doing something nearly every day that is not in alignment with who I am.
I can pinpoint the shift and identification of this misalignment and disjointed feeling. I started doing animal rights activism in November 2018 when I went to my first pig vigil. I watched as hundreds of pigs in several trucks were driven into a slaughterhouse in Vernon, California. After that single night, something clicked in me and I knew that I had to live who I was.
The catalyst for this feeling was spiritual. This monumental shift was prompted by understanding suffering outside of myself and recognizing that staying in my lane and toiling for someone else for several decades in an office was not going to fulfill me, or even make me feel okay. The opening of my spirituality was beyond myself. I had dabbled before in spiritually but the push into true understanding came from the roughest place I could have positioned myself in. A place that had nothing (and everything) to do with me.
I began to understand why people talked about finding your passion and sparking that inner light. That had happened. And the disjointedness nestled itself not as a subconscious idea that I could bury but a glaring, unavoidable sinking feeling that I’m wasting my life.
Spirituality is born from an egoic concern to place oneself within the world. And that the ego death is the aftermath of opening the doors of spirituality with purpose. From hereforth, the process of bringing peace to the soul by creating alignment in outward and inward identity looks like a selfish act. But it is the most powerful expression of human self love. Doing the work to be the same person we are on the outside and inside, and having our purpose (and job) reflect that, propels humanity to new heights.