Love Letters to Humans (no. 96) — on Disobedience and Belonging

Would you risk the access your obedience buys to claim the belonging that is your birthright?

Our compliance with the status quo is rooted in our very real and valid desire for survival within systems built on the erasure, destruction, and subjugation of difference. Access to resources, a sense of safety (and even superiority), and the experience of being socially accepted are often predicated on us hiding the truest parts of ourselves and the differences we bring.

Obedience can sometimes look like: pretending to be “normal” (masking) • culturally assimilating • prioritizing the comfort of others to our own detriment • obligating ourselves to emotional labor, whether or not it is explicitly requested of us • performing gender in ways that do not align with who we really are • code switching • making small talk • dieting • softening our tone • overworking ourselves • perfectionism • participating in things that energetically drain us • performing concern for things we don’t actually care about • choosing the “right” school, career, or partner instead of the right one for us • skipping dessert • being nice all the time • punishing others • punishing ourselves • pretending to be strong when we’re hurting or lonely • over-giving, over-achieving, over performing • under-giving, under-achieving, under-performing • people-pleasing • silence in the face of injustice • not talking about grief, death, or loss • choosing the thing that will cause the least amount of tension and prompt zero questions from the people around us… and this is a short list.

The rules are endless and contradictory, and attempting to obey them conditionally buys us the privileges of acceptance, access to resources, power, status, and protection from punishment.

I have no judgment about us wanting to avoid punishment and get our basic needs met, nor am I suggesting that we have an obligation to risk our ability to survive in order to be more of ourselves.

I am asking if there’s more—if in our obedience to the status quo we’re giving up the unconditional belonging and joyful connection that are our birthright.

I am asking if showing up with more of what we’ve got to experience belonging as we truly are is possibly worth risking some of the privileges that keep us comfortable and disconnected.


Starting in June 5th I’ll be teaching and exploring these questions more deeply with a small group of folks in Disobedience School for Humans Raised to be Good Girls and Nice Guys.

If you’re interested in learning more and joining the conversation, I’d love to hear from you.