If I had to look back over 2012 and pick one lesson from the courses I took, it would be this. The both/and lesson. I learned this in two separate courses over the span of the year and it took me a while to really click onto it and start using it in my own life. I also found that initially it was very hard for me to accept it. I didn’t understand how it worked.
The both/and means that you can be two things simultaneously that contradict one another. For instance, you can be a feminist but you can have opinions that might not be considered feminist opinions. For instance you can say “I am both a feminist and I believe that women can be satisfied as housewives.” An important little note to this is that the “and” portion may not always be something that you want to feel, but that you acknowledge it’s a part of you whether or not you want to change it. For instance some women may really feel that it’s completely OK to be a housewife. Other women may feel that it directly contradicts their feminist beliefs but must confess that they feel it regardless.
Does that make sense?
The both/and gives us validation in our feelings even if they don’t always make sense. Even if we believe we’re one thing but act another. It allows us to be fluid in our evolution as human beings. Not always perfect. Not always perfectly aligned into little boxes. And yeah, it’s messy. It’s messy to say “I am this one thing, but I am also this other thing, even though they might not make sense together.” Sometimes it’s hypocritical. Sometimes it’s hard to confess. Sometimes they might be things we keep secret. Only sharing the bits and pieces of ourselves that make sense in the version of ourselves we want others to see.
I think it’s important to own the both/and and to be accepting of other peoples experiences. Take a note from a famous both/and in Perks of Being a Wallflower. You’ve probably heard it before.
“I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”