To take up space means to occupy something. To remove an empty area with a new entity in its place. To fill a void.
Every time I show up somewhere, I take up space with my body. Every time I speak in a room, I take up space with my words. Every time I write something, and it is shared publicly, I take up space with my thoughts. But what do I know about the space I take?
When I take up space, my presence may be seen but not always immediately understood. There is a variety of responses that I believe are happening. I see eyes looking at me. Some eyes are kind, and a smile is given. Several eyes are cautious and do not know what they see. A few eyes stare and dart their eyes in another direction quickly. Many eyes look expectantly in anticipation of what comes next.
Some voices are friendly and warm. Several voices are ignorant and unaware. A few voices are lively and carrying along in a furiously fast pace. Many voices are calm and silent in anticipation of what comes next.
I think some people don’t want me to take up this space. They are uncomfortable with this kind of space. They become alert in this kind of space. They might secretly wish they, too could take up this space. Since I am here, they must tolerate my space, not support it. I do not confuse the two. Then I think some people do want me to take up this space. Highly visible confirmations as well as quieter notes of positive affirmation. Yet it is nearly impossible for me to accurately know what response someone has when I take up space unless I directly ask them. However, I think that would be requesting a level of honesty and awareness that may not always be necessary. Do I truly need to know that?
Why do I think about all of this? It is my space to take.
I think that every time I speak, someone hears me yes, but whether they are listening remains to be seen. There is the immediate desire to counteract what I just said. The lack of awareness that I may not have been finished talking or making my point, so I stop them, then I am able to continue. A phone ringing, a text message received, or maybe an application draws their attention, something else is happening while I am speaking. The nodding in agreement yet no words come forth. The long awkward pauses. Then eventually comes understanding and embrace. The safe space. When I take up space, I want to make my presence calm and confident, not cocky or over the top. I think I need to be able to exit and reduce the space if necessary to protect a certain level of exposure. I think for me to take up space means that I am aware of my physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social elements at play.
When I take up space my body is in full drive. I feel this sense of wholeness, alertness, connection, and, as mentioned earlier, exposure. I feel excited knowing the space I am about to take is welcomed and prepared for my presence. I feel anxious when I take up space in a place, I know I need to be in, but I am uncertain of what that kind of space involves. I feel disappointed when my taking up space is not understood and received as I intend or desire. At first, I may feel the need to remove myself when the space I have taken up is not appreciated in what I need. The disappointment feels like someone taking in vulnerable infant (my heart) promising to care for, only to abandon it (rejection) once they realize they are not up for the job. To tell someone that they can count on the other to have a safe space but remove that space out of self-protection and self-interests are acts of trauma, abandonment, and rejection.
Channeling this frustration, I then feel empowered to continue taking up said space as it is my responsibility to bring it. To own my voice and honor my journey to advocating my right to take up space as how I need. To be a space that tells others like me we must take up the space we need without fear of rejection, abandonment, dismissal, or unappreciation. The more positive affirmations of safety, celebration, awareness, and community can outweigh our fears.
Therefore, I need to bring myself in the space I take.
I do consider how I take up space, though. I approach the space I acquire respectfully but also with curiosity. I ask questions, and I operate with a significant amount of thought. I used to be a primarily extroverted individual, where taking up space was so organically done without a care or thought in the world. Now, my appreciation has grown in how my space that is taken up has more purpose and a sense of agency. I do not go where I do not wish to be (mostly). I have faith in the space I take, I walk forward with an understanding that even with the unknowns about what space I take, I do what needs to be done. I provide the room for someone like myself to keep taking up that space.
I must continue to take up space.