Ladders vs. Bridges
First off, happy Trans Visibility Day! You are loved and heard and accepted and beautiful. I have been and am still trying to educate myself on the history of trans and nonbinary people, and if you are one reading this, you have my FULL support. You do you. By living out what is true to your heart, you are acting as leaders of confidence, bravery, and integrity. I love that.
Right now, I like to think that things are looking up: COVID vaccines are starting to become distributed to the public, with improvements from our past presidency in regards to LGBTQIA+ rights and mental health services, and for me personally, officially being accepted as a member for my student body's government to the Disability Rights Advocacy Committee. Although it's been over a year now of mundane home life, there's always something to be grateful for.
Today, I pondered over the idea of visibility. Visibility is the ability to see. We place different levels of importance on things and people and ideas based on what we see.
But is visibility really the rationale as to how meaningful something is to someone?
Personally, I don't think so. I think that many societal issues stem from not being seen.
Maybe if we lost our eyesight, then we can see the things that really matter.
Too many times, we equate money and physicality as emblems of success and happiness.
We think that more is better. More in the bank account, to save more to spend more, to satisfy us more and more and more. More weight to lose or gain, to gain more attention or beauty. We never stop because we think there is always more to get. It never stops.
Do we ever think about how the quantity of what’s tangible is fleeting pleasure, while the quality of what’s intangible serves as lasting satisfaction?
The permanence of character surpasses the transience of materialism and physical presence.
Too many times, we never question our conditioned beliefs and perceptions and ideas.
We project our thoughts from our personal past, into the present moment to create our future, which then becomes our reality.
We are multi-faceted individuals, constantly trying to make sense of our external stimuli in order to validate what is comfortable.
We are also products of our environments: by surrounding ourselves with those who support our growth and who we are becoming, we are able to feel more confident in our abilities to live out our truth.
But what is comfortable? How do we discover what our “truth” is?
Collectively, we have grown to become comfortable with seeing…
skinniness as a measure of how pretty someone is
men being tough, dominant, the breadwinners
girls being soft, submissive, the caretakers
strength as a measure of how much weight you can carry (emotionally and physically)
differences in race as differences in abilities
high grades as a measure of financial stability and success
those with mental health issues or disabilities as “crazy," “embarrassing,” or “liabilities”
When we view the people around us with a hierarchal framework based on ability, appearance, gender, sex, or race, we become inflexibly narrow-minded to the endless beauty found in diversity and acceptance.
Beauty standards, gender roles, and the misconceptions of true strength and intelligence are perhaps what cause the greatest fatalities in the modern world.
Why? They derive from expectation. And expectations derive from our primal need to feel comfortable.
We all want control of our lives to feel comfortable. Healthy control is when we use it for our daily lives to improve productivity: habits and routine. Healthy control is made through our decisions and choices and where we place our focus on.
But when control extends to other people’s lives, it becomes unhealthy.
When we try to control our future (or others’ futures) when it hasn’t even happened yet, it will only leave us wandering in the mind, lost, and disoriented from reality.
The need to feel in control derives from the feeling of being lost. To combat this, we instinctively try to cling onto something with the intentions of changing its outcome, in order to feel more powerful and stronger.
Expectations fundamentally derive from control.
In its purest form, expectations are simply attachments. But attachments are different than connections. The latter frees us, while the former cages us.
If we become too comfortable and unaware, our expectations start to control us, instead of having it the other way around.
We start living on auto-pilot, never questioning what we have been conditioned to believe.
Why? Because discomfort is scary. Or, novelty is exciting. You can see it either way.
Either way, discomfort is the agent to action.
Will you live in fear, or will you live in freedom?
Will you live in hate, or will you live in love?
These beauty standards, gender roles, and skewed definitions of real strength and intelligence are simply expectations caused by society’s attachments to what has never been questioned.
So question them.
May you defy the auto-pilot life to fly towards the sights you want for your plane of perception. Curiosity is what makes each day unlike any other.
May authentic connections help us heal, for personal and social transformations towards equality, freedom, love, acceptance, belonging, and community. These are all human rights.
Instead of continually climbing up ladders where we must fight our way up to the top,
maybe we can build bridges to connect others together.
Let the ladders dissipate, let the bridges create.
- Kat <3