I am experiencing fatigue - which is just down the street from exhaustion, around the corner from boredom, and the next town over from depression. It's a familiar neighborhood. I've been here before which is why I can name it. The first time I stumbled onto fatigue, I was blissfully unaware as I was distracted by the sweet face of my first born son. He would only sleep in my arms (or I only allowed him to sleep in my arms - I have newborn amnesia), which at the time seemed like I was winning some unnamed competition between me and the crib. But like in war, the victor only seems to win. Day and night of operating on someone else's unreasonable, demanding schedule is maddening. The energy required to stay in the present moment, anticipating the next nonverbal request while cleaning and working and cooking and sometimes bathing is beyond protein drinks and bootstraps. Fatigue is like mind, body, and soul tired. But different than depression, fatigue permitted a quiet fire in my belly that drove me to feed, change, bath, and love my way through the fog. Dramatic much? Yes, I believe it's a symptom of fatigue.
Fast forward to now and - the world. Recently, I decided to make my world a little smaller in order to ward off the looming feelings of fatigue. Being an informed citizen, reading, listening, and scrolling content about the world, our country, my state, county, city, neighborhood was scaring the crap out of me and I was forgetting to breathe. As a mother, I want to protect. As a woman, I want to understand. As a friend, I want to support. As a biracial person, I want to scream. As a spiritual woman, I want to believe. As a change educator, I am all too familiar with the immediacy to fix what's broken and the eventual fatigue that follows from the constant hard work which is required for real change to take hold. I am knee deep in the hard work of changing what I can and I am being called to redirect my focus, to go further.
As Americans, many of us are experiencing fatigue because we live in a don't-tell-me-what-to-do nation (please reread those words with the piercing voice and conviction of a teenage girl who knows she is the smartest person in the room - cross your arms and stomp your foot if that helps). The bratty behavior around wearing masks - wear the stupid masks for crying out loud. The feigned ignorance around systemic racism. The constant indignant comments while calling for civil discourse are what led me to the decision to focus less on those who unapologetically hate, and more on the fire burning in my soul to trudge beyond fatigue to what's next. Dramatic much? Yes, I believe it's a symptom of fatigue.
I am the worst at walking on metaphorical eggshells. Even when given an urgent look from across the room, accompanied by the zipping-of-the-lips mime routine, the subtle hints just don't land. I usually respond with a loud What? or an eyeroll that says Oh please. When we were younger, my sister would make me do the heavy lifting when it came to asking the adults in our lives for information that was just out of her reach; topics living firmly embedded in the eggshell zone. I would unknowingly, or better yet naively crunch all the way to the adult, my sister cheering me on from the sidelines. Sometimes I would get the answer to her seemingly innocent question and sometimes I wouldn't but everyone involved knew I had ventured into the we don't talk about this area; everyone except for me. I would leave those exchanges never understanding what the big deal was. My sister would say I was brave when I delivered the goods. I didn't feel brave. I mostly felt confused that I was asked to do something that I thought she was perfectly capable of doing.
I have come to learn racism is a walk-on-eggshells topic, even in my own diverse family. The feelings of fear, sadness, confusion, pride, shame, and anger that is swirling about our county is encouraging some to take actions that will move this conversation to a platform more accessible to all those who want to participate and others to retreat into the comfort of business as usual. Racism is so utterly pervasive, most of us can’t see that it exists - especially in ourselves. When we’re willing to see it, it’s uncomfortable. It’s disorienting, really. Just like when I was a kid, I was recently called brave in response for asking honest questions and telling the truth about me. Writing about my experience as a person of color in America is not brave, it is necessary. It is necessary for me to acknowledge my own experience because without my knowing it, the reality of racism has become a shrug of my shoulders, an external problem that doesn't live in my house. And of course it does! Without my permission, the evils of racism have come into my home through the news, through social media, through responses to my writing, through the innocence of a friend's text. This is not about who is or isn't racist. At least that is not the conversation I am interested in participating in. This is about me changing the conversation from what happened to what's next; from what hasn't been to what could be. I believe change happens when we stand together as humans dedicated to the betterment of each other, taking responsibility individually and collectively. I am committed to walking on the metaphorical eggshells in hopes that one day we are simply walking; walking to get to the next conversation.
Lori Ann Dinkins
One blog at a time, I write the truth about my life as it is, as I hope it will be, as I wish it would have been. Business insights and personal triumphs. Thank you for joining me.