So you're afraid you'll get cancelled
Sometimes I can't believe how much birth/reproductive work has evolved in the two decades that I have been a part of it. The work itself has changed a little. When I am attending a birth today and supporting my clients, their needs and options haven't changed too much. We have made gains in some areas and what I perceive as losses in others. Home birth and midwives are more readily available. In my community I've participated in advocacy work to increase midwifery hospital privileges. People who conceive using IVF and ICSI are cared for a little differently now than they were ten years ago. I would definitely say people are induced more and the length of pregnancy has decreased because of more pressure to induce sooner. I fatigue a little easier these days but have more confidence and experience obviously.
All of that evolution in the work that I do is very small compared to the evolution I have seen in doula world and online space. I've had a social media presence since I started my first Facebook account in 2007 and have actively participated and been an observer of the evolution there. In the early years it was pretty exciting and fun to be able to connect with other people who were passionate about the same causes that I was, people who were of service in similar ways, people who shared my passions. We talked about what books we loved and we helped each other learn new information or skills to support our clients.
Nothing ever stays the same. We are in a constant state of evolution and growth. This is the nature of our existence. You can't see my eyes right now but if I were sitting in a room right now with you and a group of our peers I would ask you to look around the room into the eyes of every soul that surrounds us. When we do that it's easier to remember that we are all humans with minds that are limited to varying degrees, souls on a journey of awakening, growth, service, mistakes, trauma, healing and connection. I'd remind you that you're all loving beings. Doula work is work of service. Each of us is motivated to support others and reduce their suffering. Our work is work of self sacrifice. We do it because we have such a strong will to reduce the suffering of others.
It is that very strong nurturing and protective calling that contributes to the evolution I've seen. Our passion to protect and help others can sometimes be expressed in ways that actually causes a lot of suffering and harm. We have removed that eye gaze with increasing use of social media and in many ways we have lost that soul level connection. As a result, as an empathic observer and participant, the overwhelming majority of us are full of fear. I've never witnessed as much fear of sharing information, putting oneself out there, real authentic expression from newer and experienced doulas alike since I started teaching and mentoring doulas as I see today.
When I'm coaching my doula students in business (my other favourite passion), they're terrified of making a mistake, being wrong, not knowing something, saying it wrong, being misunderstood and the fear is disproportionately greater than it was even two years ago. It breaks my heart, but I get it. There are infinite examples online of being damned if you do and damned if you don't, an army of people who will tell you what you have to do and another army who will call you out for doing the very same thing. The army's feel big, but the actual majority are silent. it's not an us versus them because those in fear will sometimes take their turn calling out as everyone dances the dance of trying to "get it right". Even the language has evolved so if you have something to say you may have a knowing that you probably won't get your words right or what is right today could be no longer acceptable tomorrow and harvested later to haunt you.
You're going to get it wrong sometimes. You might get called out. You might even get cancelled. Participation in the online sphere is optional. There are lots of ways to connect with the people you serve. I remind my students often that I was successfully building my practice before there was a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I have loved technology and the ways it has fostered connection that would otherwise be impossible. It is also true that the online evolution, with all of the progress and gifts has simultaneously contributed to a lot of harm too.
I don't know where we go from here. If social media isn't contributing to our wellness, if it no longer fosters free and healthy expression and dialogue, if people really are afraid to connect with each other and be authentic.. maybe we don't need social media. Or, do you bring the light and be an example of love, kindness and compassion? What I do know is that you are doing your best. You. Wherever you express yourself, however you connect with others, please give yourself permission to be authentic. Listen to each other and then listen to your wisdom. When we disagree or when someone else isn't getting it right, take pause to remember that eye gaze.
Fear is paralyzing. Love connects. Expression heals.
Release your fears by acknowledging them and expressing them. Find the ways to express yourself and connect with others that are high integrity and invest your time there. Express your truth in love and kindness. Love and connection is the one true way to create change. I stand by that.. even if we disagree