Your Feelings and Experience Matter Too

June 21, 2021

“I’m here, and I matter too.”

These words have become an unexpected mantra for me this year.

One that’s been building slowly and quietly for the last few years, but that really came to a head this spring.

“I’m here, and I matter too. My life, my feelings, and my experience matter too.”

I’ve become louder and more vocal around it lately while also being equal parts dumbfounded and fascinated at how frequently people dismiss my experience (along with other people’s). They’re so quick to counter with their truth, argue or defend against my feelings, or dismiss my experience as a fluke because “this has never happened before.”

It’s so very subtle at times, but instead of internalizing their truth or continuing to allow myself to be unheard, I’ve been speaking up and setting a lot of new boundaries.

Because if you can’t—at a minimum—pause to hear, understand, and engage with my experience, then I’m not at all interested in your take or response. If you can’t—even briefly—sit with my feelings and allow them space to land before countering and defending against them or their cause, then you don’t need a place in my life. If you can’t—at least for a moment—entertain the reality that just because something’s never happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, then we’re going to have some words about your avoidance and lack of awareness.

“I’m here, and I matter too.”

And the only people I’m willing to allow into my world are those that understand how to value and make space for someone else’s reality.

They don’t always have to agree or have the same experience; they just have to have the skill and ability to hear, be curious, and actually factor others in. Everyone else is unapologetically getting the boot immediately or getting an earful about context, conscious and unconscious manipulation, or how damaging their behavior is to the people around them.

Because no one gets to invalidate another person’s experience, and doing so makes it impossible to grow a connection or find solutions to the problems at hand.

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