I run mini-experiments for myself to see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes it's paying closer attention to what I eat and how it makes me feel, or I may put myself in a new situation. In the past I would think of the results of the experiments in terms of pass or fail. If I tried something new and enjoyed it, good for me! If I tried something new and it was awful, I'd internalize it thinking, "Why can't I do this?", "What's wrong with me?", or "I'm such a failure" (which is pretty standard fare for anyone with depression).
Image taken from Prezi.
Over the weekend I tried something new that was way out of my comfort zone. I could either visit the St. Louis Art Museum or the City Museum. I've visited plenty of art museums, and when I asked friends about the City Museum they all said they loved it, that I would love it, that it was awesome, and they couldn't describe it, and that I just had to go and see for myself. There are lots of art museums, and my first choice is always to go to the art museum, but I ran an experiment: try something new that you can only see one of and see if you like it; maybe you'll even like it as much as the art museum.
The outrageous jungle of the City Museum.
As soon as I stepped inside the City Museum, I knew it was not the place for me. I've got anxiety. I hate crowds, and I hate feeling trapped. On top of that, I kept having extreme deja vu because of my recurring nightmares about being trapped inside a place that looks uncannily like the City Museum. Creeepy. While I was there, though, I rode a Ferris wheel on the roof of the 10-story building, chickened out on a slide that would've taken me from the 10th floor down to the first, and saw truly beautiful, weird, and one-of-a-kind, amazing things I'll never see anywhere else. It was also the worst thing ever.
Sketch 10 of #the100day project about running experiments.
See more of my sketches about mental health on Instagram!
That's okay, though. Even if the experience stressed me out to the max, as an experiment, going to the City Museum was a success. A few months ago, I would have beat myself up for not going down that gigantic, 10-story slide, and I would've felt terrible about how the museum was fun for everyone else but not for me. I would have called myself a coward and told myself that I should have known better and that I should just stick with what I know. Instead, I'm proud for pushing my limits and knowing my limits, and I'm also glad to have experienced such an over-the-top place.
Me in the room of architecture at the City Museum.
Now, are you ready for Metaphor Time? Here you go: When there's a movement that wants to embody everything for all people, there will be hitches. People have to experiment to see what works and what doesn't. There are going to be disagreements among each other and different ideas about different ways to do things. None of that means that our activism is failing of that we should have known better than to try to change a prejudiced system. What it does mean is that we are learning as we move forward. Moral of the City Museum: try something, learn from it, and move forward. Voila!
A group of strong women at the Women's March in Little Rock!