Being woke, as I saw it described on Tumblr, is like learning to drive. When you’re young, you’re completely unaware to what’s going on around the car. You don’t see the kid who almost jumped in front of the car, or that deer your dad barely missed hitting, or that douchey guy in the Geo flip your mom off as he passed in front of you. You just did your thing 'til you got to your destination. Fast forward to your first time driving the car, and suddenly you see all of it and it’s overwhelming. How do you get to where you need to be when there are endless opportunities for disaster and catastrophe around you? You can’t go back to being unaware of them because now that you’re driving, you need to see. Once you’ve woken up, what do you do when you want to go back to sleep?
I started listening to the words coming out of my mouth more and more this year. My parents would start conversations about the latest headlines, eager to just share with me, and I’d be prepared to quip with an, “Well actually,” and proceed to tell them what a trash bag that person was. It got to the point where conversations seemed like competitions. Everything in some way had been ruined. I couldn’t watch old shows without seeing some BS. I got tired of calling people out for sexism or transphobia or racism, or on a really good day some lethal combination of hatefulness.
Once you’ve woken up, what do you do when you want to go back to sleep?
Like I said in my last post, 2017 was a big reason I was getting tired of being woke. We had to be awake damn near every day. Another headline, another breach of freedom, some other terrible way we’re being pushed back into the last century. How do you balance social consciousness with wanting to live? Eventually I grew resentful. I wanted to go back to sleep. I wanted to go back to being a passenger instead of the driver. But I couldn’t. We shouldn’t. There’s got to be a way to find balance. Here are a few ways I’ve found to help.
1. Allow Grace.
When I was in high school and even in college, I had some pretty fucked up ideas about the LGBTQ+ community. Nothing hateful, but nothing correct either. I never challenged the ideas I had learned from listening to super evangelical folks in the bible belt. I absorbed them, but never tested them. It wasn’t until the LGBTQ+ community became friends and family that I sat with what I had accepted and ultimately rejected it. I thought some stupid shit. I have to give myself grace now in understanding that waking up is a journey. We didn’t take our first breath of air in this world being the most radical, the most conscious, or the most woke. We got conditioned into believing a lot of harmful, untrue things. It takes some of us decades to unlearn those things, some even longer still, but it’s not a sudden result, it’s a process.
2. Pick Your Battles.
I say this not to benefit the person in need of correction. I say this for you. There have been multiple times where I’ve deleted comments or simply deleted people from social media. Now I ask myself two things: Will I feel better for saying this? Will this person accept what I say and do better? If I can’t say yes to both, I drop it. A lot of people don’t want to wake up. It’s difficult, it’s uncomfortable, and it can be exhausting. They resist momentary discomfort and protect their current understanding. Not everyone can be helped, and it’s not your job to teach everyone. There are millions of trolls, honey, but you don’t have to cross every bridge to get to them. Sometimes you have to remind yourself: “Not my bridge, not my troll” and keep it moving.
I can’t say this enough. You need people. People need you. You’ve still got some untested biases rattling through that noggin’, and other people will be able to extract them. Other people can hold you accountable. Other people can hold you up when you’re just about done with calling others out on their BS. Other people can save you when you’ve given racist trolls more of you than you’ve given your family, your clients, or yourself. Other people can commiserate with you, but also remind you to celebrate when being aware feels like too much.
We can’t do a manual reset on our brains. We can only move forward, focusing on using what we know to be positive, proactive work. I’m so tired of battling ignorant fuccbois on social media. I’m tired of interacting with the Kathy Rays of the internet. I’m tired of giving pieces of myself to miserable people. It’s up to you to choose how you decide to use your woke powers. We need all the energy we can muster to fight the good fight.
Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.