Taking Up Space

I walk this graceful and sometimes clumsy line of doing my best to take up my rightful physical (and otherwise) space in the world without over-stepping into others’ space. I’m very aware of my privilege as a white, professional male and how I’ve overly taken up a lot of space, some of which here and there was not rightfully mine to take. Then, there’s the actual space that I and my needs naturally fill up, which is ultimately non-negotiable. Between this delineation has been a confusing, gray seeming area for me, which, thankfully, has become less and less so over the years. I think this is a challenge many of us– if not all– humans learn to navigate better as we grow.

Hear hear to all the disenfranchised people taking up more of their rightful space!

4 thoughts on “Taking Up Space

  1. This post is interesting and confusing at the same time. I’ve never thought of space as rightful. Perhaps, the invisible boundary we need to be aware of to not get too close (physically or emotionally) to someone. Maybe, I may be guilty of this, presuming I know something about another’s feelings when they have not shared that with me. Possibly, because I need a huge amount of space, I only go to places where there is an abundance of space for everyone. I had to look up disenfranchised and was surprised the definition was so limiting (politically based). I think you mean those groups of people who were not accepted by the masses and who are finally able to hold space in this place we all live in without hiding their true selves or being judged for who they are. I love your posts because you bring me into the world of the unknown. Your world seems huge to me and would be impossible for me to navigate, whereas my world seems very small and simple, as it rightfully needs to be. Thank you for including me in this wonderful space that I enjoy so much.

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    1. I wonder if your confusion is an empathic resonance with the confusion so many of us feel around taking up space balanced with owning our own rightful space, how that has been muddled for a lot of folks because of their upbringing? Like you, I also need a lot of space. And, if one’s space has been overtaken time and again, it’s understandable to grow into needing a lot of space to create room for a sense of comfort around then gradually gaining a sense of confidence to effectively navigate space in the world within and between oneself and others. It is wonderful to include you in this shared space!

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  2. Ah, space. I remember one time a quite special and insightful person told me a few years ago, “You need to take up more space in the world.” That concept continues to confuse me, and I know I’m not alone in that confusion! Sometimes it feels like the more we know and grow, the larger and more confusing the gray areas get.

    Our bodies live in a world of the four dimensions we perceive as reality: l) length; 2) width; 3) depth (so we perceive the world in 3D); and 4) time (so we perceive objects via their place in time. I get the taking up of space on that level. If one agrees that a being has a right to exist–human being in this example–then yes, there is rightful space I think. To exist, we must move through space to take care of the basic needs of our existence, some of which take up additional space (like a place to sleep, or toothbrush, or food). So, at the very least, one has the right to take up the space that one’s body occupies at any given point in time and the additional space required to meet existence needs. Some folks have trouble even with this–considering that some very tall or otherwise very large people often feel guilty that they take up more space relative to other people. That’s a topic for a related discussion.

    But then there’s other space. The invisible (to most people) auric field/subtle bodies we all have aren’t part of the perceived 3D world, but are just as real. Because these are actually part of the body we need to exist, then we have a right to that space too. This part gets trickier because the subtle bodies include more than the physical–emotional, mental, spiritual… How much space they take up/need varies widely by individual and circumstance. I’ve been told by yogis and other intuitive people that the minimum space for healthy existence here would be the 3D equivalent of the space your physical body would occupy if you added an arm’s length all around (imagine yourself in a bubble whose volume would be spacious enough to enclose your physical body + an arm’s length all around). Depending on your desire to connect with another person, this space could shrink down for closeness, or balloon out for safety/security. In a truly close and trusting relationship, the subtle bodies can overlap and intermingle to form attachments. It’s this auric space that gets confusing for me because of the interaction with other people. How much or how little space do I have the right to take up? How much do the others? What if my needs and theirs are in conflict? This dance we do every day with other people would be exhausting except for that most people have grown up with cultural mores on how to navigate the world. Obviously it doesn’t always work, but generally the basics are there.

    I get confused a lot about my space when there is conflict between my rightful space and other person’s/people’s. Whose rightful space takes precedence? How do we sort this out (because most people seem mostly unable to talk about it openly)? So I’m left to my empathic intuition and–probably to my own detriment–I usually let the other person’s/people’s needs take precedent.

    BUT…this doesn’t account for the fact that often we take up “too much space” without even being aware of it (or being aware of it but not knowing how to change it)–as in the case of racial privilege, or socioeconomic privilege, or sex and gender privilege, or educational privilege, or other innumerable privileges. So that’s even more confusing. What do we do about it? Do we try to make up for past encroachments? How? Do we cut down the space we feel we need in order to make space for others’ needs? It’s tough enough to do that in one-to-one relationships, but I’m lost when it comes to more global relationships.

    And then of course, there are the other dimensions (at least 6 others) in which we exist as human beings in the universe. Perhaps that provides some sort of wildly abstract answer to the confusion (e.g., we interact differently in parallel realities). But it sure doesn’t de-complexify being a being in these four dimensions!

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