By Kayla Berry (Program Coordinator)
As the snow coats Colorado’s eastern slopes, I can only think that any of year and I would be home by now, busy trying to figure out how I would make time to see everyone and telling myself that this year I’m actually going to get ahead of my Christmas shopping– knowing full well that is a lie. The holidays are very nostalgic for me. I have a small family, so we would always all be together for the holiday season, and being the youngest in my family meant that, while growing up, the holidays were especially magical (lots of gifts + lots of food = happy kid). As an adult, the only time I have missed a holiday was when weather didn’t permit me to travel over the mountains.
The holidays are different this year. I won’t be traveling home, not because of the weather, but because of something that I don’t think any of us expected. COVID-19 has changed the world in unforeseen ways, and though back in March it was a surprise, it isn’t a new phenomenon anymore. We’ve been at it for 8 months. It’s exhausting. It has restricted our ability to be with each other, to hug, to speak without the muffled layer of cloth. And for me, those restrictions become all the more apparent during this season.
I grieve for the loss of memories that I would get to have during these holidays. I fear that they may be one of the last that I have with aging grandparents. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the thought that I can make exceptions, that I am the exception. I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. However, I’m reminded of something that my IMPACT instructor has told me, “Safety is not only a right. It’s a responsibility.”
When we begin the journey to learning that we are worth fighting for– worth protecting– we can’t ignore the fact that everyone, just by existing, is worth protecting as well. We can start to see how we are all a part of something bigger, a large community committed to honoring and receiving each other’s boundaries, working to protect and advocate for everyone, especially those at a greater risk of experiencing harm.
IMPACT teaches people to act. When presented with an adrenalizing scenario, we want to see students do something, move into action. That’s going to look different for everybody in every situation. Sometimes taking an action feels big, sometimes taking action seems smaller. Sometimes doing something looks a lot more like not doing anything at all. Regardless, moving in a way that honors your safety, the safety of those around you, and the responsibility that we all have to each other is brave.
The feelings, exhaustion, fear, whatever they may be, are all valid. This time is unprecedented for many people, and receiving boundaries can be painful. But I hope that as we move forward through the next month, we remember that the best way to honor the spirit of this season is to act in a way that not only considers our needs, but the needs of those around us.