What is a safe space? In life, we all need a place where we can be confident and true to ourselves – to relax, to rant, and to let it all out.
A safe space is a place or environment in which a person or a category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. It can be a community, a person, a thing, a place, or a feeling; as long as you feel at home and peace, it is your safe space. The world is an inherently selfish, and stressful place. More often than not, college can become an excessively jarring experience, taking its toll on our mental health. Thus, this is when the need for an escape arises with urgency — a place to be yourself, to express yourself, and to discover yourself, without being conjectured. It becomes a place of acceptance, and it helps us to come to peace with ourselves, and that is a powerful perspective. But why are safe spaces important? A survey revealed that one in every four college students reported being diagnosed with, or treated for, a mental disorder.
Besides the aforementioned, 20% of all surveyed students were revealed to have had suicidal thoughts, 9% reported a suicide attempt, and nearly 20% reported self-injury. There are two types of stress in existence: eustress and distress. A little stress and anxiety are good for our performance; they help us work up to our best potential. But when this turns into distress, it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. It is common place to feel spent after having your guard up constantly. Safe spaces, thus, become a place to unwind and feel cathartic. All of us arrive at college carrying trauma or some form of emotional baggage. We are thrust into a new environment that can often become an academic pressure cooker, and we have to figure out how to take care of ourselves without the hovering support of our family or community at home. It is then that safe spaces become a tool. Safe spaces can help you feel cherished and respected. They can provide a break from unsolicited opinions, and having to explain yourself to others.
A safe space can be anything: it can be a best friend to whom you can rant about when you’re feeling blue, it can be your curated Spotify playlist, it can be your guitar, your favourite book, or your room, or your favourite food. It can be ranting on social media, and it can be your home. It can be absolutely anything that you wish for it to be.
That is precisely the point of a safe space — it is something that allows you to be you. It allows you to recuperate, and it allows you to build resilience that can be accessed in moments of conflict. It allows us to accept ourselves, feel comfortable in our skin, and function as emotionally mature adults. It takes powerful perspective to understand that being “burdened” is not normal, and we owe it to ourselves to continue our pursuit for balance.
Feature Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat