The #RemindHer: Boats, boats, boats...

They say that your thoughts become your beliefs, which become your actions. Our words are our thoughts verbalised, so we need consideration of the words and phrases that become part of our vocabulary. Those that we just seem to accept and adopt into our lives.

Language is one of the most direct ways that we speak about ourselves, of ourselves and to ourselves, so I'm always conscious of the words that seem to just be there. Take, for example, the word ‘just.’ I’ve been actively weeding this out of emails for a good two years now:

‘I’m just emailing to ask about,’ ‘just’ wanted to ask if…’ It immediately comes across as though I’m apologising for inconveniencing the recipient by needing x information. And don’t worry, it’s not that important, I just… you know, can’t do my work until I get what I need. But it’s no big deal - and to end with another of my favourites - “No worries!” Yes worries, actually.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been thinking about boats recently. And until a few weeks ago, I didn’t realise how often they’ve featured in my life, and maybe yours too. Specifically, these three idioms:

‘We’re all in the same boat’

‘Missed the boat’

‘Don’t rock the boat’

"We're all in the same boat"

I remember arriving into the world of proper adulthood. Graduating in the summer of 2006, and right into the beginnings of the financial crash. I remember thinking that my friends and I were all in the same boat. Broke, living paycheque to paycheque, and trying to jumpstart careers with no cables. But it was fine because the same was true of all of us.

I took too much comfort in the idea of that common identity. I didn’t do anything for myself, because we were all in it together. It didn’t occur to me to want more, because that’s just how it was. Except, slowly it seemed like some people started to get out of the boat. They started careers, paid off overdrafts, got on the property ladder and made big life-altering plans with partners… all while I was reaching the crescendo of the chorus line ‘we’re all in this together’ High School Musical style.

What I didn’t realise, is that we were never in the same boat. I had been fooled by the illusion that we were because our individual boats lined up parallel for a time. I realise now, that this wasn’t even a lack of self-trust. I plain didn’t even know it existed, so used to just going along with what had been presented to me.

"Don't rock the boat"

Now, I can’t even type that without thinking about this (you’re welcome). When I looked up the meaning, I was met with the explanation ‘saying or doing something that will upset people or cause problems.’ Reader, if I began to go into how much time and energy I used trying to avoid making other people upset, purely to my own detriment, we’d be here all day. I’m sure you have your own examples.

"Missed the boat"

Now, there are times where we sit on an idea or opportunity for so long that we do miss a legitimate window of opportunity, but most of the time, I seem to be the one deciding I've missed the window or actively doing the casting the boat off to sea (look at me, with all this boating vernacular just hanging around in my head?!). Based on not much at all, I conclude that too much time has passed, the opportunity has evaded me, pushing it away, and notching it up as another thing not done. The basis here? Always fear.

So here I’ve been all these years, attempting to stay in the same vessel, not move an inch for the sake of the discomfort of others, and chase all the other boats, all at the same time. How do you fare? I’m really not trying to reprise the High School Musical chorus and say ‘we’re all in this together,’ but I wonder if you relate. Not rocking the boat has always seemed a tactic to silence, keep quiet, not challenge the status quo. And to that I say, when necessary, make every damn person in that boat feel unquenchable sea-sickness. You are not the only one that needs to deal with the salty rage of suppression.

The ideas of missing or being in the same boat are about comparison, at the end of the day. A never-ending jostling to be in position with others, be the same or similar, using them as life markers for ourselves. If you’d have told 20-something year old me that there were very few boats that could truly be missed, I doubt I’d have believed you. But experience and time have made me see that there can be autonomy in resistance. Maybe we haven’t missed those boats. Perhaps, we didn’t want to get on board.

Speaking of almost missing the boat...

I wanted to create an audio journalling guide for ages. A downloadable, done-in-real time audio version of my workshops, not inhibited by timezones or plans you might have. I specifically wanted the first one to be the "Lessons from Lockdown" workshop. I put it off and put it off and put it off some more.

I started it and then let the narratives and the fear take over. And now lockdown is easing. And it’s summer, and people have plans. And I’m telling myself, ‘it’s too late now. What’s the point?’ But I know that it’s taking me quite a while to find what feels right with all of this, so actually, the boat is still there. And more so, if the point is solely to be a necessary act of defiance against the habit of a lifetime, then it’s worth it, right? That’s what I’m choosing to go with.

So here it is: a 50-minute audio journalling guide, complete with a PDF set of prompts sent to you by email after purchase, for you to do whenever suits you. 

Leaving lockdown isn’t the race of pace that it feels at times, and even if you’re finding it okay, this period we’ve lived through deserves proper processing time, and I’d like to think this could be one such useful way of helping with that.

Buy the audio journalling guide: Lessons from lockdown

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