For a while, I’ve been thinking about the It Gets Better Project (an international movement centered around messages and videos of hope, particularly for the LGBT community and those who are bullied), its mantra, and the touring It Gets Better musical. I’ve been sifting through stories to share—of the celebrities who were interviewed on the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of the musical; of the Gay Men’s Chorus who used their own experiences to bring depth to the performance; of Leisel Reinhart, the writer and director, who dedicated the musical to her friends who lost their lives to discrimination and hopelessness. Then I’ve had my own stories coming into play, and I’ve been working out how to weave all these threads and moments into something tangible I can share.
I’ve also been reading New Beliefs, New Brain: Free Yourself from Stress & Fear by Lisa Wimberger. I'm not even into the second chapter and already my mind is approaching life through a different lens, reevaluating the stories I've often told myself that I accepted as the gospel truth... but are they?
This ties in with an article I recently edited at work by our Vice President, Ivan Obolensky ("Why Language?"), which tells the story of how language may have come to be necessary. Through this fascinating look at our human history, I realized that many survival instincts from long ago may be ingrained in our DNA as necessary for survival then, regardless of actual circumstances now (much as our hormones demand procreation even when the need to pass on the family line is not as critical as it was a hundred years ago).
So if our bodies have not necessarily caught up with the times, do we have a visceral need to be part of a pack? If we are cast out, do we instinctually know that our death sentence has just been signed? Perhaps our need for independence is at war with our certainty that if we don’t have a large posse to blend in with, we are nothing. There is no in-between in the animal kingdom: you are either part of the pack, a predator, or you are Other, discarded—not just homeless, but bereft of all connection to any identity.
Then the book New Beliefs, New Brain comes into play: if we experience these instincts and feelings but can’t articulate them, does our justification-happy left brain come up with a narrative to make sense of it all—even if the Reasons Why are untrue? Like “I’m useless,” “I’m stupid,” “I’ll never be good enough,” etc. Is there a point when those reasons why become unquestioned reality, and the fight is on to change them, to Fix them, to arrive at that hopeful future when one is of use, smart or good enough, or at least good at something that will permit acceptance into a pack, somewhere, anywhere?