In academia, particularly in the social sciences, everything you hope to share with the world is under the scrutinizing and critical eyes of other members of the community. You spend 50% of most of your research papers proving to your audience why you’re writing, why what you’re writing is important, and why the other people writing about the thing weren’t as right as you.
That’s the long and short of it.
If you disagree, well girl, you know where to file a complaint.
Being in such an environment can make one a bit defensive and sometimes that expectation of criticism from all sides bleeds into one’s personal life and dealings. Thinking about how this sensitivity can cloud one’s perception of other people’s intent and actions led me to write this post.
I’ve come to terms with that aspect of my identity and though it’s not one of my favorite things about myself it is what it is. In being so sensitive I’ve spent most of my life making sure to not let people know they’ve hurt me or their actions have impacted me in any kind of way.
Wanna know what that looked like in practice?
It makes sense to be on alert regarding who and what you let into your space. Discernment never hurt nobody, but constantly looking for the next attack can hinder more than help most of us.
In the process of moving past traumas, loss, or pain, we build our personal armor tougher, make sure there are no vulnerabilities, and prepare for the next potential battle. That pathology makes sense when one is in times of duress and chaos.
It’s only natural to want to fortify yourself against the attacks of the world. The problem comes in when you’re constantly in defense mode. Having your guard up with everyone may seem like a great idea, but trust me when I say it hurts you in the long run.
Forever making sure nobody “is outchea tryna play me” has only ended with me being always looking for the next attack or the next battle. This type of guard starts to harden you after some time. Next thing you know, you’re wondering why you can’t connect with people on a deeper level because that fortress you’ve built up to protect you and your feels can, and most times does, become a prison.
One thing time spent on this side of heaven has taught me is that everyone is sensitive about one thing or another and in the process of “keeping our heart,” as 3 stacks would say, we harden our hearts and keep our feelings tucked away in a vault.
Too bad we, as humans, need each other. We need hugs and affirmations and contact with those outside our heads in order to grow, learn, and evolve. The only way to connect with the people who can make you better is to let them in.
Easier said than done.
I’m constantly working on listening for what people are actually trying to say instead of instantly perceiving their words as hostile. I heard somewhere that generally criticism comes from people who are invested in your success, not your failure. That changed my perspective on some things.
I’m a work in progress, as we all are. Life in its various tosses and turns can throw us in constant loops of stress and anxiety. Times of high tension may dictate how sensitive and defensive we’re feeling but try your best to keep your heart open to others’ voices. We can’t make it alone outchea in the world.
Happy Spring Equinox!
Bri aka the one still writing a dissertation bka the one getting these gains.