I’ve been sitting on this bench on the school playground for a while now. Listening about other kids laughing at the way they look. Witnessing how they are trying to be friendly, funny, have the latest stuff but somehow don’t make it onto the guest list for the Friday party. How they put all the effort in to not fall behind, yet still don’t make the cut. I have been listening to how they feel different, and they don’t understand why. How they blame themselves. How they feel angry, and then guilty about feeling that big, bad anger. How excruciating the pain of loneliness and exclusion is. How they worry, worry, worry, are told not to but just. can’t. stop.
All this time I’ve been running my personal “me too” campaign, parallel to the one we’ve been hearing recently about. Most things children say to me I can respond with a “me too” to. Some stuff I have experienced exactly the way they have. Last year or yesterday, despite the fact that we belong to different generations. If I haven’t, at the very least I know that there are others with very similar thoughts, feelings or challenges. Their “stuff” isn’t as outrageous as they think and won’t shock me – being shocked would be to deny that I also, at least occasionally, feel and do the shocking. “You will think I’m crazy or something” isn’t going to happen, so go ahead and shoot.
It is healing, making someone feel like what they are going through is an inherent part of being the complex species we all are. Life is not always smooth sailing and every one of us will hit the rough or rougher waters, caused by external circumstances and/or our very own internal battles. Can loneliness, feeling abnormal or conviction that we are plain bad continue when we have a “me too” at hand whenever a fellow human needs it? Those two words make successful campaigns because “feeling with” and compassion towards others transcend all differences between us. Hearing a “me too” at the time when you feel vulnerable and alone can be soothing, transformative and even life-saving. So do not hold back from “me-tooing”, say it when you mean it. There is something in it for you too, in return for putting up with the discomfort of vulnerability that saying those words might cause. The powerful sense of safety and collective strength you can draw from being “in it” together, from being a part of community of creatures who might be as flawed as you, but are available and ready to hold you nonetheless. Also, a “me too” from you, might bring one back to you just when you need it most – whether on a school bench or behind a solid-wood desk of your grown-up office.
I wish you presence with self and others.