Reading Pagan Consent Culture recently (fantastic book, do check it out) I ran repeatedly into the idea of the emphatic or enthusiastic ‘yes’ as being a key feature for consent. There is no ambiguity with an enthusiastic yes. Rather than inferring consent from any noise that isn’t clearly negative, we have to look for the unmistakably positive response. This is not just an issue for things sexual.
It’s easy to go through life accepting the mediocre, the half hearted, the people who weren’t an outright ‘no’ but frankly weren’t keen. We can sleepwalk through situations of apathy and carelessness, through beige and grey landscapes of nobody really cares either way. These are drab ways to live, and they will suck the joy and enthusiasm out of life. Put your soul into something and have it met with a ‘whatever’ and you will feel much smaller.
What happens when we look for the enthusiastic yes in our social circles, workplaces, in our creative exchanges and everything else? What happens when we step away from the ‘whatever’ spaces and stop putting energy into them?
It makes a huge difference just to spend some of your time where you feel wanted and valued. I’ve been experimenting with this one a lot over the last few months, and the consequences are vast. It’s not easy to let things go, especially for me, with people-pleasing a definite part of who I am. But things change when I am more selective about who needs pleasing. The ‘whatever’ people will never really be pleased with me. If I focus my energies on the people who really want me in the mix, really need me, are really excited about what I’m doing and what I can offer, there’s every chance these people can also be really pleased. If that happens, everyone gets to feel better.
Sometimes, the ‘whatever’ people are unavoidable, and that’s ok, but if you want to offer heart and soul and the very best you have and the most you can do, then the people who give an enthusiastic yes to that are the ones to be working with.