Knowing & Creating Safe Spaces
It is more than just a term
“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense…” — Ray Bradbury
What is a Safe Space?
The term ‘safe space’ has been a part of the regular discussion for quite some years now. However, one may observe that safe spaces are like an intellectual idea for most of us, just thrown around in discussions and debates. But it is not just intellectual at all. It is a human idea, a universal necessity of being.
A safe space is a place, person, or environment where a person feels free from harassment and discrimination that is physical or emotional.
Well, that is pretty much a dictionary definition but is sufficient to explain whatever we need to know. An environment where you could speak up, where you do not fear biases, where you do not need validations or judgments.
In a more crude manner, a place where you could fearlessly sit knowing well who you are and not fearing it — magically poetic, isn’t it?
Definitions to it may vary just as realization do — some might say it’s one’s home while others might point out that you are more open to your partner or friends — but the need remains— Freedom of opening up. Isn’t that what makes college so special — a bunch of friends with their grudges and idiosyncrasies sitting together and letting it out in the evening over a cola or maybe a bar of chocolate!
So, why discuss this?
Well, to begin with — such spaces are not available to all.
Many of us refuse to speak up. We tend to believe that others are too good for us (or maybe vice versa!). This builds distances, anxiety — we discussed this in the last post, ‘second life’. But what we did not discuss is that judgments are made on people who speak up, biases are existent part of our social system. While this is a very generic remark and observation, this is pretty hard upon the ones who are sensitive or have poor self-esteem.
Another reality is that while acts like suicide, self-harm, and self-pity are often talked about in media, institutions, and public circles, it isn’t exactly in the way it should be. We have been desensitized to such events — suicides are often deemed to be fit for ‘weaker’ people — that is a very common phase in India. Media has a fair share in the same — glorification of death and suicides. We can discuss this portion again sometime, but what is important is that we are certainly not on a path of either sympathy or empathy.
What can you do?
Help in the creation of an environment where people can speak freely. Ask your friends or maybe form a group in your institutions or maybe just…
…let your friends know you are there to listen — nothing more. Remain silent, be unbiased and a little compassionate, mindful, and warm to their thoughts and perhaps, grievances.
That is all that needs to be done.
“Pretty sure, the world would be great if only man would have had learnt the art of listening…” — The Team
SOS, VIT is a student community dedicated to the creation of safe spaces for individuals. This move is supported by our members and volunteers and the Counselling Cell, VIT which consists of several professional psychiatrists. One may connect with SOS, VIT on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.