The other day I sent an email that made me sweat and shake for, like, an hour.
And that’s not including the hour before I sent it when I stared into space and began the sweating, typing and erasing, going back and forth about whether or not to send it in the first place.
In the end, I decided I had no choice but to do it.
Did I have concerns about how it might be received? Yeah, of course. I thought about how I myself might be perceived, what might or might not actually come out of it, what responses I might be presented with, what blowback I might get. I thought about the consequences of sending the email. I thought about the potential costs.
But the potential cost in not sending the email was far greater than any of those other concerns.
There was no way I could possibly stay true to my values and what I believe in, the change I want to see in this world, and stay quiet. I had to make the confrontation. The only choice was to send the email. So I did.
As I was processing all that and ultimately making my decision, I thought about how many times in life we go through this. How many times we know in our gut and our soul and our heart we have to say something, we have to do something – anything – and we still fret and fret and fret about it. Probably half the time, we agonize enough that we don’t do anything.
And half the time after that, we forget about it and go about our business. But another half the time after we make that decision, we keep thinking about it. Like, why didn’t I say something? I should have said something. Clearly, I’m still thinking about it, so maybe there was something to it. Next time, I’ll be the one.
I’ll be the one to stand up to that bully.
I’ll be the one to speak up about that sexist comment my boss made in a meeting and say it offended me.
I’ll be the one to ask what people of color we’ve invited to speak at our event.
I’ll be the one to offer help to that houseless person.
I’ll be the one to share my pronouns and answer questions about why they’re important, so my queer friend doesn’t have to.
I’ll be the one to change the subject from weight loss to anything else.
I’ll be the one to say no, I won’t support an abuser.
I know I’m not the first or last to point this out, but if not you, who? If not now, when?
Something else to think about: What if there is no next time? Alternately, what if you’re the one who prevents a next time?
I’m tired of sitting around frustrated, having behind-the-scenes conversations with girlfriends about things we wish could be different. I’m into taking action to make them different. Even when it makes me sweat and shake.
Actually, particularly when it makes me sweat and shake. That’s the best indication that it’s something that really matters and will probably make a difference.
I believe we all have a special kind of power – be it access, privilege, connections, platforms, money – to get shit done. But we don’t always act on it because it comes at a cost. But I’ll ask you this:
Doesn’t it cost more to not use our power?
We keep talking about wanting better for the next generation. That’s great and all, but it means we have to up the ante ourselves, now.
It might be as small as sending an email. Or as tiny as changing the topic of conversation from fat and food shaming at your next brunch get-together to how nice the weather is. It might be as big as running for office or starting a non-profit to support a cause you believe in.
If I had to guess, though, you know what it is for you. You know the situations, the conversations, the interactions, even the news stories and current events that set your body ablaze. Maybe fire is discomfort, danger, fear, awkwardness, anger – or some combination of all those things. I get that it can be a scary ass feeling to deal with, and scarier yet to deal with how it feels to do something about it. But the scary feeling will pass, and the action could be the difference between something horrible and something great, between status quo and exceptional.
Your action can create change, so pony up.
We are all capable of being the one, of absorbing the costs of the actions – sweaty, shaky hands and all.
For the record, responses received were supportive for the most part. A few basically neutral, and quite a lot of non-response, but nothing combative. Again, all those are costs I can absorb. So can you.