Sunday, May 9, 2010

On taking up 'too much' space

Picture this: Yours truly is sitting on a tram on my way home. I am seated by the window in a grouping of four seats; 2 x 2 seats facing each other. A thin girl is sitting oposite me, no one is siting next to neither me nor her, my legs are not long enough to be encroaching on 'her' space. And I'm doing that thing that I do. That thing where I press myself up against the wall next to me, and make sure my arms are in front of me in stead of at my sides making me wider; in other words, I am making myself as small as possible. I don't think before I do this, it's an automatic thing. Because I'm already taking up too much space, more than my 50% of the seats, and I don't want to make it worse. Someone will, experience tells me, enter the tram soon, and they'll be needing a seat. If it hadn't been for my incredible fatness, if I were a normal person, no one would have hesitated in sitting down next to me. But now, because of my huge space-encroaching body, they won't even get 50% of the (fairly narrow) seats, and I'm trying to make the situation better by minimizing my presence as much as possible.

As I am sitting there the tram stops and two men enter. They are both big men; one of above average height and muscled, the other of about average height with both muscles and fat adding to his size. They are moving towards my grouping of seats, and I wonder if one of them will sit next to me, or if they will see me taking up too much room with my fat ass (shoulders, arms), and move on. The tall man sits down next to me without a seconds hesitation. This surprises me a little bit, because this guy is so large he takes up more than 50% of the seats (not that I would ever hold that against him, mind you), and I would have expected him to at least consider that he and I won't fit very comfortably. (Is it possible I'm not as large as I imagine?) But not only does he not hesitate, he also does that thing that guys do where they spread their legs, making him take up more space than he needs to. Hm...
Now I look over to the seats oposite me, where the other big man has taken a seat next to the thin girl. Together they use up all the space there is, and even though he clearly takes up more than his half of the space, he is also doing that spreading-the-legs thing. And he looks completely unapologetic doing it. This boggles my mind for a moment. Sure the guy sitting next to me can do this, he is slender and therefore doesn't have to worry about taking up too much space. But the other guy is fat, and he's doing the exact same thing! Then this realization suddenly takes hold of me; if these guys don't feel the need to apologize for the space they're taking up, why on earth should I? If these guys can go through their lives taking up more room than they need to, even though they are large to begin with, and clearly feel absolutely no qualms in doing so, then why can't I go through my life taking up as much room as I need to feel comfortable? There's no reason why! I am a person, and people take up space. Some people take up more space than others, that is how the world works. I shouldn't apologize for taking up space, any more than I should apologize for being a person. People don't expect everyone around them to be their exact size, and being one of the people who need a large amount of space in stead of a small amount of space is a ridiculous thing to feel bad about. It's that simple!

Except it's not that simple, of course. The external and internal messages that had me pressing up against that wall in the first place are still out there. So every now and then, when the need to make myself as small as possible comes over me, I pull out this memory. And I try to remember how clear it was, how obvious, how bright a realization, and hold on to that.

I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Say it with me now: I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I am a person. People take up space. It is nothing to be ashamed of.


the EyeZuh said...

this was just a wonderful post about your growth and awareness and enlightenment, and i'm glad i came across ur blog and read it :) <3

- Iza

Veronica said...

Thank you so much! I'm so glad someone other than me appreciated this story!
Oh, and as a btw, I'll probably love you for the rest of my life fore being the first person to comment on here=D

Wendy Cakes said...

This is a lovely story and i do exactly the same when I am in a tight space on a train! So I empathise totally! You are right we all take up different amouts of space and shouldn't be worried about it!