Change is life’s biggest metaphor. The hallmark of change is discomfort and for a few weeks now I’ve been experiencing this all too useful discomfort in adjusting to life without my usual coping mechanisms (like WARMTH or familiar faces).
For a few weeks now I’ve been immersed in research on Racial Equity and in my readings I came across this passage by Patrick McCarthy of The Annie E. Casey Foundation. It reads:
Those of us working for change know that embracing that discomfort, something Jim Casey called “constructive dissatisfaction,” is how we make things better.
Constructive dissatisfaction is how we make things better. What could be more true.
In my work as an advocate for gender equality, it’s hard to tell women who’ve bought into the classic “man is the bread winner” concept that economic empowerment is the way to social harmony. Especially when all their efforts to achieve equality is met with strong and sometimes brutal resistance from men and women alike. For most, it’s easier to just live in this patriarchal world and derive whatever small benefits women supporters of patriarchy can get. After all, it’s worked for so many others because, despite being suffocatingly patriarchal, Jamaica manages to have the highest percentage of women managers globally (59.3%).
There is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting in the living room watching the 7 o’clock news and hear the hate rhetoric and the fighting as pro- and anti-LGBT supporters go at it night after night. Secretly, you die inside while wearing a face cast in stone as your family joins in with a few hate words of their own. I have lived it and because of that I understand when LGBT J’cans ask why LGBT advocates can’t just stop fighting back. It’s more than self-hate; it’s the hurt that keeps you prisoner of your current reality.
See, the thing is, for change to happen there has to be that discomfort. The constructive dissatisfaction we experience during the rights battle is a necessary part of the process. Discomfort can’t be made to disrupt the gains to be had from the Gender or LGBT equality movements. In fact, the discomfort should be the fuel that makes us want change even more.
With all that said, I do wish I could take the same approach to constructive dissatisfaction in my personal life and keep pushing past the anxiety when the discomfort hits. It’s so much easier to take my own advice professionally than personally, but that proverbial sign on my forehead that says “WORK IN PROGRESS” is not just for show. While I figure things out I’ll just revisit an old coping mechanism and reread Robbie Rogers’ autobiography while I reminisce about warmer times and continue the fight for change.