You know that old saying about how a picture's worth a thousand words? Yesterday a friend of mine showed me an amazing cartoon that proves that out.
There's so much going on here, so many hard-to-convey ideas in play.
First, when you're a trapezoid (or an age player, or a kink person, or anyone on the margins of social acceptance) it's so tempting to want squares, triangles, and circles (regular people) to approve of you. And it's not entirely a misplaced idea either. After all, you're still a shape (a person).
But there be dragons there, so maybe you just work from within, do self-acceptance, that sort of thing. It feels really good when you embrace your inherent trapezoidal nature, hang out with other trapezoids, buy the latest trapezoid accessories too
It's awesome to say, put trapezoid art up in your house, go to the trapezoid munch.
But that's also, not the whole story.
Take a closer look at the cartoon. It's super telling that in that whole cartoon the trapezoid gets one line and two facial expressions.
The whole narrative comes from everyone else. So the trapezoid runs away.
This thing speaks to fears I've held, ways I've been treated. worst-case-scenarios that I've held onto that have kept me from new experiences and joy.
It's the reason why it feels so good to get diapers in the mail, and put them away in a drawer by the bedside, like they're no big deal and just a part of my life. It's why I bend over backwards to teach people to love themselves. It's why I'm adamant about being a polite member of society, but not requiring the tacit approval of its majority.
It's not that I think that the square, the circle, and the triangle here are inherently intolerant assholes (although they're certainly acting that way), it's that they and the trapezoid have bought into a paradigm where you're only worthy of love and belonging if the majority says so.
And that's utter nonsense.
I'm really grateful for this comic because it shows the problem so very clearly.
We've got an out though, maybe even an adaptive strategy around it. We can recognize that unity and difference aren't opposites, they're complements. One exists to help define the other. It's not that the trapezoid isn't a shape. It clearly is. The square, the circle, and the triangle have demonstrated that they're just not willing to see it, which forces the trapezoid to seek validation elsewhere.