What’s the version of no “student shaming” during COVID-19?

Ive had a lot of phone calls this weeks.

Many of them began as gracious check ins,

timely social connections,

and yet almost all of them

have turned towards something familiar,

and not as obvious.

When people think crisis,

they hear sirens.

They invoke a feel of emergency

that,

sounds like an emergency.

It’s called an emergency.

Maybe there’s crying,

shortness of breath,

a call to action,

briskly avoided moments of silence.

Sometimes emergencies are these things.

Sometimes crises are these things.

And other times,

they’re only those things

after our support venture has ended.

At the time when we can be seen,

we might go to great lengths to hide.

One thing that crisis work

has taught me is that almost without exception,

people do not hand over

their emergency states freely.

Everything it turns out,

still moves at the speed of trust.

People in crisis fall into that everything group.

How —

when I don’t yet trust you with something —

might I sound when I’m teetering on a crisis?

I might overcorrect, in sociability and kindness.

I might overextend, in explanation and tasks.

I might over budget, in time and energy.

I might underestimate

what feels vulnerable.

I might tolerate everything

better than my feelings or my vulnerability.

I might talk myself into and out of circles.

I might bite the insides of my cheek.

I might curl the bones on the top of my feet that allow me to disappear my toes into a bend.

I might ask you how you’re doing,

and find refuge in a caring role.

When it comes to being in school, like being in a job or a part of a family, trust builds slowly.

There can be a tendency to conflate

close quarters

with safe spaces and commonality.

Those confusions

slow trust building,

and those inviting labels

trigger our reclusion.

What might I sound like when I’m in crisis?

Silent.

Apathetic.

Manic.

Overcome.

Unaltered.

Alert.

Lethargic.

Withholding.

Faint.

Loud.

In this time of churning and shifts,

we owe it to ourselves

to become adept listeners.

To use labels that build trust,

and respect people.

To use labels that reflect global crisis,

and inadequate support.

To use labels that make it easier to be seen

while we enter

and navigate crises.

Do you imagine yourself trusted?

Do you imagine yourself trusting?

Do you navigate feeling neither?

When an environment is mutable,

something has to be constant.

Inner life.

Physical safety.

Relationships.

Sacred sources.

I agitate us all to take some inventory,

and receive critique,

so we can gain capacity.

I instigate myself to use the words I have

to hold up mirrors.

I suspend my cynicism to place

more faith in collectivism,

as I center a barometer of trust.

Because I know the question is not —

will, or when, or why will I we be in crisis.

The question is whether we will tell anyone.

May we remember that trust can’t be assumed,

anymore than things can take

less work

or time

or relationships

or listening

or resources

than they require.

May we be open to this call towards learning.

The same call, whether or not we can answer.

Writer. Thinker. Facilitator. Advocate. Invested in accountability for power based violence, creative initiatives, and meaningful, nuanced dialoguing.