(I originally wrote this in the commons area of the hotel that served as the site of the recent conference I attended. I wrote it on a break in between presentations, amidst the crowds of people milling about.)
I might have looked fairly comfortable sitting in my own little corner of that comfy, trendy, Qi-flowing couch, and physically I was. But I didn’t stay. I felt too keenly aware of–and uncomfortable around–the other people milling about the hotel’s hall-space just outside the ballrooms partitioned for simultaneous lectures. And I was starting to feel naked and exposed.
So, I got up, probably too abruptly. If anyone asks, we’ll just say that I needed my space, a little alone time. That’s the closest to the truth I can express, anyway.
And I’m pretty sure that the random activation of mild, too-polite laughter from some gentleman that, despite its flimsy intensity, carried a bit too well and penetrated my mental space, didn’t help. Nor did the woman with the complete lack of awareness of anything going on around her as she talked too loudly on her phone. (What’s up with that, anyway? People don’t understand that the volume at which they speak should hinge less on the noise level of their environment and more on that of the listener on the other end? But that might require thought processes beyond what most are willing to put energy toward.)
I have always felt self-conscious about being out and about, in public places. I don’t feel anxiety or paranoia, like someone’s out to get me or anything. I just feel naked, exposed, scrutinized, examined, made to measure up or justify my existence there.
I have decided that I have a right to be there. My right is as right as anyone else’s. I’m on equal footing with everyone else. I have equal validity, equal value, equal entitlement.
In the pop-psych pop-culture movement of “I’m OK, you’re OK”, I had somehow forgotten the “I’m OK” part. But I’m OK, too. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I can be, just be, without being obligated to offer an explanation as to why.
I am here, and that is enough.