Social Justice & Organizing Work

Navigating Harsh Spaces

This week, I came back to school from break. Sitting back in a generic couch on the third floor of my university’s library, I feel at peace as I tap away at my laptop, trying to wrap my head around being back to reality. My housemate and I have the same Race and Resistance Studies class together every Tuesday night and got released early, so the two of us are cooped up in a half empty building killing time as he waits for his next class and I take refugee between concrete walls.

Being back to school feels odd. It’s less of matter of wanting to lounge about, but immersing myself on a campus that feels both warm and foreign. My classes are filled with men, primarily computer science and engineering majors, that hold cold expressions. My classrooms aren’t small anymore, but filled with up to a hundred people. In rooms that feel as if they’re constantly expanding, I feel very alone.

After living so collectively with my group of friends for the past 2-3 weeks over break, school is a stark contrast; back in creaking seats and cold rooms full of people who don’t even want to be here. Sitting in classes full of men overwhelms me, as my trauma that I hold closely spikes up my anxiety about the guy to my left who has too smug of a smile. I find myself retreating back to my collectives for warmth and strength, since the cold steel that runs through our buildings fail to hold and comfort me the way my partners do.

Within times like these, I have to remind myself that my way of living is a revolutionary concept. Being part of multiple collectives and allowing myself to love polyamorously isn’t something that is easily accepted within our society. Communication crumbles in our society as our emotions suffocate. The concept of love becomes toxic and skewed under systematic oppression as people like myself seek a love rooted in our liberation and further growth as humans.

Regardless of the side eyes, I will continue to practice revolutionary love even though its looked down upon. I will take deep breaths when my anxiety tightens my chest and demand my boundaries be respected. As I go into the school year, I hope to seek some kind of balance between my day to day and collective living, not letting the two be alien to one another but work hand in hand. I will continue to curl up on generic library couches when I write and claim space for myself.

And most importantly, I will never reduce myself. Not for myself, not for anyone.

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