Touch

Truth - Socialization is a process by which we are indoctrinated into a society. It's an ever-changing and lifelong series of occurrences that guide the ways in which we are able to interact with one another. The range of what is socially acceptable versus inappropriate or completely taboo is vast. In some ways socialization conveys to us the rules of the world and how to move through it, but it others it adds restrictions. What happens when you step outside the boundaries of social norms? What if we defy social constructs? What if we touch?

"You are defined by your ingredients, by the way you touch them, by the flavors you draw from them." Graham Elliot

You know what's both fascinating and saddening simultaneously is the fact that in some point of your childhood, your parents put you down, and never picked you up again. Obviously there are logistical issues that add to why that is, but from a social standpoint it's kind of odd. Think about it. As babies we spend literal hours being swaddled, squished, and swarmed by people, especially family and friends. As kids your parents give you hugs, kiss your boo-boos, and hold your hands as you cross the street. Eventually you reach a point where it became embarrassing or even shameful to touch your parents. No more forehead kisses, piggyback rides, or clasping pinkies for promises. We go from playing tag, splashing in puddles, and clapping along to concentration 64 to dystopian realities of texting circles, snapchat frenzies, and separate food orders. It becomes odd to touch your friends or others you are close to. Fast forward to your young adult years and suddenly you're supposed to be immediately able to be intimate with others in the most deeply personal of physical ways. We've been existing in a public solitude for years on end. The switch is abrupt and peculiar. We might have forgotten how to touch and be touched.

What a shame it is that shy away from the embrace of others. We become so wary of others and recede into ourselves. Duck, dip, dive, and dodge as if the touch of another is some kind of Biblical curse of old. Our relationships and stratifications prevent us from expressing ourselves. Teachers, doctors, or even your co-workers, we believe so strongly in this made up barriers that we hold back our inclination to express our emotion physically. Touch conveys in motion what words cannot. Touch is a language of the body and the mind. Touch is complicatedly simple. It is powerful. It is bold. It is tangible. It is real. What if we lived in a world where we touched one another to acknowledge them more often (with affirmative consent, of course)? What if we respected our bodies and those of others to touch and be touched agreeably? What if we touched with kindness, compassion, and empathy? Maybe touch would become a more normal part of our lives.

Not being able to show affection without it being perceived to have some sort of sexual undertones is infuriating and debilitatingly damaging to so many, particularly men, queer people, and people of color. Hypermasculinity prescribes that all touching between men is sexual and yet we see normalized (but arguably homoerotic) renditions in athletics or bar culture. The outdated notion of the stoic man must perish lest we lose another generation of men to socialized suffering in silence. Men must be allowed and encouraged to express their emotions in healthy ways without ridicule. People must be able to support one another without appropriateness constantly a question. Cry, laugh, shout, sing, dance, and all the rest with others. Hug with a tight embrace and speak truth to reality in someone else's ear. Shake hands and look someone in the eye. Interlace your hands and kiss your friends on the cheek. Rub some shoulders and spoon whomever you'd like. Express yourself without remorse and be free from the confines of our social structures. Society is meant to evolve. What if our progression to "civilization" has been a regression in our person to person interactions? Prioritizing emotional health needs to be uncompromising and an aspect of our lives that others support.

I want to strive as often as possible to be someone who shows how they feel. I will be someone who tells their family how much he cares about them. I hope to be someone who tells his friends that he loves them, and wholeheartedly means it. I want to let people know that I recognize them, value who they are, and appreciate the ways in which they move through the world. I'll be someone who touches the lives of others and is unafraid to connect both physical and emotionally. Life is too short to be afraid of one another. Life is too important to let those who came before you define how you are supposed to live your life. I want to be someone who challenges any semblances of complacency or  apathy with a vivacious difference and ingenuity.                                                           

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