Saturday, January 26, 2019

Safe Spaces: What There is to Know about Your Space

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By: Autumn R. 

 The term “safe space has been around for a while, however, not many people have a clear definition of what and where a safe space is. That’s because there isn’t one set definition of a safe space. Safe spaces change per person, and vary greatly. In this article, I will be going over these main points: 
  1. What is a safe space? 
  2. Where can you find one? 
  3. Why are they important? 

What is a Safe Space? 
There are more than one kind of safe space. Public and Personal. 
A personal safe space is a space where you go to be alone (or with someone of your choosing). It’s where you feel comfortable, relaxed, and, well … safe. It’s your place to escape from the world for a bit and unwind. 
A public safe space is when the space involves multiple people coming together without any bias or judgment. A community circle of acceptance, and no tolerance when it comes to spilling secrets. These are typically found on college campuses, in school clubs, and at churches. 
Safe spaces don’t have to be anything special. They don’t have to be elaborate or extremely fancy, just somewhere you love to be. You don’t always pick your space either. They just happen sometimes. 

Where can you find one? 
Safe spaces come naturally to us. They can be a place you wouldn’t expect or a place you totally saw coming. It could be your reading nook, your bed, the back of your closet, or the basement. It could be with others or alone. It could be full of pillows or empty of anything. It could be in a dark area or full of light. A safe space is simply a place where your body remembers that you felt safe. It’s going to be one of the first places your body thinks to take you when you’re upset. Muscle memory, of sorts. 

Why are they important? 
There are many reasons why a safe space is important. One being that safe spaces are where you can go to unwind: to relax after a long, stressful day. Another is that it’s a place to go when you’re sad or in desperate need of a place to be alone. 
Say you just lost a friend, figuratively speaking, and you’re crushed. You feel like a part of you is missing and that hole in your soul is bleeding out. The ground suddenly feels like you’re falling and you can hardly see through your tears. Your body stumbles about on its own as harsh sobs escape your mouth. You hit a pile of pillows and fall, collapsing into the corner of a room you can’t see. Gasping, you clutch at something soft to your left and hold it tight against you. You lay there until the tears begin to dry up and your voice is failing. You lay there in a numb heap until your senses slowly realize where you are. It’s the corner of your room where you sit and read, next to the window. It’s full of pillows and blankets and stuffed animals and it’s the most wonderful place in the world. 
That’s a safe space. You didn’t pick it. You just knew. It was in your head that you weren’t okay and you needed to go to a place that was okay. Without it, you would’ve collapsed on the ground or against a wall and sobbed until you couldn’t breathe or were too tired to function. You probably would’ve passed out from the lack of consistent oxygen and the sheer lack of energy from the tears and the full-body tremors. 
Or, maybe, you just had a fight with your dad. You both screamed and hollered and swore. Now that you’re at your friend’s house, at her little get together, you start ranting and raving to the others about how horrible and cruel and mean your father is. Then promptly burst into angry tears, wailing, ‘It’s so not fair!’ Your friend immediately draws the circle in closer, trying to reassure you that everything’s going to be okay. You continue yelling things you’d never say coherently until someone convinces you to hush so they can talk about one of your hobbies, or your favorite show. Something to get your mind off of your father and that fight. It works, and hours later you find yourself laughing  with your friends at a video so funny you’re seconds away from peeing yourself. A perfect example of a public safe space. 

Remember, a safe space is your space. 
Don’t force it. 

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