The Migraine Struggle Pt. 2

When I first wrote about my chronic migraines, I had just graduated from college and was visiting the emergency room once or twice every year. It’s been over four years since I wrote that piece and, unfortunately, I still live a life that’s constantly and consistently affected by pain. There are places I cannot go and things that I cannot do because of migraines—I resigned myself to that reality a long time ago.

Since that first blog post, though, my migraines have changed. For a few years, life was easier. I rarely required medical care, prophylactic measures weren’t necessary and, for the most part, my headaches were manageable. I mostly cut gluten and dairy from my diet some time ago and hoped that the healthier lifestyle might keep my migraines on track. In the last year or so, though, both the severity and frequency of my migraines have increased. I don’t remember a day when I haven’t had some kind of headache…I hurt every single day. I’ve excused myself from work to vomit from pain. I’ve fretted that I might give myself another stomach ulcer by consuming so many medicines (ibuprofen, Excedrin, naproxen, you name it.) I’ve been to the hospital 4 times in the last six months. I’ve overheard the whispers from doctors and nurses that they shouldn’t treat me because I’m probably just a drug addict.

My mental health has worn down. I don’t want to hear about essential oils anymore. I tried. I don’t want to know about your cousin who cut out wheat and is migraine free. I did that. I don’t want to know about Vitamin D or Magnesium Oxide or Butterbur or the fact that I should drink more water…I’ve done it all. I’ve received hormone therapy, visited chiropractors and had consistent massage. I’ve been poked and prodded and tested so many times the folks at the diagnostics labs no longer have to tell me where to sign—I know already.

Now, if you have some sort of recommendation for an experimental drug that will partially lobotomize me…I might be that desperate here soon. Otherwise, wish me luck on my next traditional medicine effort—helllllllo neuro.


11.9.2016 Moving Forward

I have been vocal this election season—oh, who am I kidding, I’m vocal about politics in general. Last night though, I was stunned into silence; the only remarks I felt capable of making centered around key buzzwords…devastation, terror, defeat, lack of faith. How did we get here? How could our fellow countrymen betray us so thoughtlessly? 

I take this election personally—this is personal. As a woman. As someone who aspired to be a political scientist. As someone who is both an ally for the LGBT community and someone who was raised by a member of that community. As a sister, a friend, a daughter and someone who hopes to bring children into this world someday—I must admit that I am ashamed of my countrymen. You have let us all down—and, no, this is not me being dramatic. And, no, you cannot tell me he is a good man. Or that he will make a great president. 

Whatever he is, he is not a good man. Good men do not talk about women that way. Good men do not prey on naked women and teenage girls in pageant dressing rooms. Good men do not make fun of deceased soldiers. Good men do not mock veterans and prisoners of war. Good men do not do the things or say the words that Donald Trump has done and said. 

Whatever those who voted for him feel today, I feel I should not have to remind you that the rest of us are scared. The rest of us awoke to an America we do not recognize. We have every reason to feel that the America we have woken up to is not an America that will protect or serve us. Some worry not only for their livelihoods but also for their lives.

This morning I walked my dog in my apartment complex as I do every morning. But today, a man felt the need to leer at me while he smoked his cigarette. He watched me the entire time I innocuously walked my dog. He watched me walk towards my apartment and he watched me walk into my front door. In those moments, I wondered: Is this the America Trump’s hateful words about women has created? Is this the climate in which I will have to survive?

You may feel happy. You may feel like your team just won…but for those of us who lost, this is Trump’s America. We have 4 years of fear to look forward to. Four years of men feeling entitled to say what they want about our bodies, feeling entitled to touch us without our consent. For my friends and family of color, it is worse than that. Their fears are rooted in the very fact that they may be separated from their families, deported back to war torn countries, deprived of civil liberties…killed. You may have “won”, but America doesn’t win when more than half the voting population lives in fear.

Today, I look back in unabashed and vehement anger. I am angry that the racism, xenophobia, and sexism of LESS than half the voting population of this country just resigned us to this fate. I am angry at the unprecedented number of rural, white men who decided to bring out the vote for the very first time last night…to what? Put women back where we belong? Show minorities we don’t want them here? 

Don’t tell me the people have spoken. Clinton won the popular vote. More than half of the voting population believed she was the right candidate to lead this country. Trump did not win because the people spoke. Trump won because the Electoral College is an antiquated, unfair and embarrassing institution that perpetuates divisiveness, hardens party lines and fails the American people. 

You may be saying, “BUT THE EMAILS! SHE’S SUCH A LIAR!” Let us nip that in the bud right now. I don’t want to hear any more about emails. Why? Because none of you are more qualified to determine the criminal culpability of anyone than the Federal Bureau of Investigations—who, need I remind you, already determined that while reckless and poorly thought out, Clinton’s behavior with the email server was not illegal. And no, if she were anyone else, Hillary Clinton would not be in jail. If that were true, Colin Powell would be in jail. Right along with Karl Rove (Bush White House emails anyone?) and Rick Perry.

We are not all so different. We are not 100% red or 100% blue. Each of us have nuanced perspectives, cultivated through years of unique, personal experiences. It is time to rethink how we approach politics. It is time to consider that our personal perspectives need a better outlet through which to have our voices heard than the Electoral College. I do not have the answers, but I do know that we can find a better way. 

On behalf of my Muslim, Black, Hispanic, female, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, pansexual, transgender, gender nonconforming, and those, who, in general, do not have my privilege of being a white, middle class, female, friends…on behalf of you…I am angry. And I will not lie still. I will not shut up. I will fight every day. From my keyboard, to conversations with family, to entering the streets, I will fight with you. 

Here is what I know: we are stronger together…we cannot let hatred, bigotry and fear of the unknown define our lives. The politics of fear may have won this round—but we are emboldened to be better. More passionate. Stronger. More engaged. To work harder. Let us start today.

Two Years in the Wake: Calmer Waters Post Toxic Love

In the midst of heartbreak, our judgement isn’t the only thing that’s clouded. The future, our identities, the very fiber of who we are is somehow grossly unclear. It takes a remarkably long time to find yourself standing on solid ground after a dark break up—and an even longer time, it seems, when the relationship was, in and of itself, toxic. I spent a long time over-analyzing and wondering where things went south. I wrote sappy poetry….more than once.  I mourned the loss of more than just the relationship, but also the weird little things that I became incapable of doing in its aftermath. Interestingly, I never cared to air the dirty laundry. This relationship broke a lot of things—my heart, my confidence, my concept of self and agency; but I never lost sight of one goal: to maintain respect…both for myself and the sanctity of a relationship that hadn’t always been unhealthy. Relationships are so incredibly intimate, we all need different things to heal and grow—trashing my ex and exposing the ugly, dirty pieces of our life together wasn’t part of my process. I don’t think it ever will be. Perhaps because I still have room to grow or, perhaps, because letting the world know how bad it was makes it feel worse.

Instead, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past two and a half years. I want to share what helped me grow and truths that I’ve confronted. While I’m still gaining back pieces of myself, I know that I’m stronger now than I ever was before. I committed to a lifestyle that’s healthier and happier and I’m better for it.

  1. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds—but it sure helps.
    We hear a lot about the stages of grief, articles upon articles are written about the aftermath of a failed relationship. Of course one of the most common mantras is the classic “time heals all” and there’s certainly merit to it. Time has wonderfully powerful healing properties. As time passes, our ability to see the relationship realistically becomes clearer. Passing time is a HUGE part of what helped me heal. That said, so many other things were equally valuable: I read blog posts from fellow women who came out on the other side, my mom express mailed me a copy of Peter McWilliams’ book How to Survive the Loss of a Love (which I now swear by and send to all my friends who experience break ups), I developed new hobbies, and I went all in on rekindling the friendships I’d lost. Healing required work. It wasn’t so simple as the passing of days. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Healing requires intention—and so does confidence.
    Looking back, I hardly recognize that little girl. She was flawed, as we all are, she lacked gumption, she was argumentative and at the same time remarkably easy to influence, but she was also silly, loving and adventurous. In the end, she lost all confidence in herself—where both her physical appearance and personality were concerned. It was horribly degrading to confront how easily another person had molded me into a person I always thought I was too “strong” to become. Even as I was becoming her, I had the audacity to look at others and see them as weak for falling into the same trap as I was. In the aftermath, I knew I wanted to be bright again. I wanted to be confident in myself and heal on my own terms; I didn’t wake up one morning and say “I think I’ll get over this today,” but I did wake up and channel Sara Evans every day. I will get a little bit stronger today. I will get stronger today, and the next day, and the day after that. I decided to push myself more. Go out more. See my friends more. Take on a new activity at work. Cry less, wallow less, worry less. One day I decided that if anyone complimented me I would say thank you and I would mean it. Every. Single. Time. I wouldn’t make excuses. I wouldn’t back track. The first words out of my mouth will always be thank you. Sometimes this is a nuisance (see: when receiving unwanted advances), but most of the time as I internalize the compliments that people give, I grow more confident and sure of myself. Now, it’s second nature.
  3. There is no glory when a tornado meets a volcano. (Thanks Eminem!)
    À la Russell Shiller (New Girl), I now recognize that intensity and passion aren’t always the bee’s knees. Sure, it’s wonderful to feel passionate and excited about a partner—but it isn’t healthy to mistake explosions for fireworks. Mature lovers don’t put you down, pick fights or fail to see your worth. In my relative naiveté, I thought love like ZEDD’s Clarity featuring Foxes was both enviable and admirable. To love someone with such intensity and fire seemed glamorous, adult and inspiring. I failed to see that just because stories and songs are written about tragic loves such as these that does not mean they’re the pinnacle of romance. The ultimate building block of a successful relationship is respect…there’s nothing sexier, more glamorous or more romantic than that.
  4. Getting back in the saddle helps…sometimes.
    When I first started dating (not counting my fake sixth grade “boyfriend”…or any of the other “boyfriends” I may have had when I was a silly adolescent), my mom expressed serious confusion about the millennial courtship habits. Step One: Talking. Step Two: Boyfriend/Girlfriend (or what my mom would call “going steady”). That’s not a ton of steps. Somewhere in between the technology and the poor social skills, millennials have changed the very nature of dating. There’s no more “dating multiple folks at one time”; if you are even TALKING to more than one gent at a time then you’re considered a bit slimy. Despite this fact, I decided to try out casual dating for a bit. I’ll admit that things grew too confusing when I was juggling two gentlemen with the same name and a couple other contenders in my casual dating pool but I also learned a lot from the really great guys I dated. Eventually, I decided that casual dating is exhausting but I also wasn’t ready to be vulnerable with anyone yet. That said, one of the greatest lessons I drew from the whole experience is a stronger grasp of what I want in a partner…and what I don’t. I had the opportunity to express those things and learn how to vocalize not just my needs but also my desires. There are stigmas about casual dating, but it’s a great way to get your toes wet without plunging too deep into a world you’re not sure you’re ready for.
  5. It’s okay to do some rug sweeping.
    In the months prior to being able to look at our pictures fondly, I lost my shit every time I saw his face (or the back of his head…or a shirt that was his that I kept). I never knew what would hurt, why, how or when. Testing myself seemed like pushing my luck. So for a really long time, I just hid from the world. I asked friends not to send me Snapchats if he was in them, I blocked him on Facebook, I deleted and blocked his number, I gave all the pictures of us to my best friend, my co-worker dropped a box of things at his house—I wasn’t ready to see him, hear him or speak to him. Of course I knew that I would eventually be able to handle it, but I had no idea when that would happen and I didn’t want to be put into a situation that made me feel uneasy or weakened. My healing process was paramount and I didn’t let anything get in my way.
  6. Immaturity is a compass that doesn’t point north.
    Certainly, this relationship was toxic and unhealthy for many reasons but one of the biggest problems was that I had not ever been in a mature, committed relationship before. I had no idea what it felt like to be with a real partner and subsequently I didn’t know what to expect. Immaturity and naiveté lead me to a complete lack of understanding about normalcy in romantic relationships. I needed to grow in my own skin or I would never have a solid foundation with another person; as a result, a huge part of my healing process involved introspection.
  7. Trust your gut and follow your instincts.
    My mama always told me to trust my gut; every time I haven’t, I have wished that I did. If something feels wrong…it is. Simple as that.
  8. Develop a plan. 
    In addition to internalizing compliments, I also committed to reflecting upon the past and envisioning the future. It doesn’t always feel good to think about the mistakes I made or how I ended up in that situation to begin with, but as part of my road to “healing”, I knew I needed to really understand what happened. So when I felt confident enough, I wrote about the relationship…a LOT. I analyzed it. I delved deep into my influences, personal quirks, strengths and weaknesses and started to think of what I really wanted out of life.
  9. Celebrate the little steps with the same ferocity as the milestones.
    I spent a really long time crying at the drop of a hat after the break up. Sometimes it would be random shit—a smell that brought back intense memories or a song on the radio or a TV show when I was flipping through channels. I felt like I couldn’t control my own experiences and I felt helpless; I really didn’t want to cry anymore and I hated feeling weak. Some months post-break up, I decided to look through my tagged Facebook photos. Instead of tears and turmoil, I found that I was able to smile when I came across pictures from the “good times”. It was a small victory but it felt like I’d scaled Everest. After a while, I was able to listen to songs he’d sung to me…eventually, I could even pinky promise again. I still can’t watch any of the TV shows we used to binge together but with every success, I know I’m growing. Getting over heartbreak isn’t about setting a bar and then reaching it. Healing is about every single day; it’s about each and every step taking you a little further away until you look behind you and you can’t even see where you started. 

Complacency and the Triumph of Evil

*This piece was written after viewing Jon Stewart’s segment on the Charleston shooting*


Writing about the hard things, the painful things that we face as a people, has never been my strong suit. That makes me part of the problem. You see, I’ve been mulling this over for a while now and I grow more disillusioned and more enraged with each coming day.

We are steeped in a culture of complacency. We are complacent about the things that matter and infuriated by the things that don’t. I’m guilty of it too—but here is what I cannot stand….the sense of blindness. The obstinate INSISTENCE that as we stare things straight in the eyes that we can call it a sheep when it’s a wolf.

We do not live in a post racial society. We are not free of the evils of bigotry; it attacks our culture, our friends, and entire groups of people every day. But when we see it for ourselves, I so often find myself saying “They can’t deny it now, surely they see it now, there’s no way they can’t.” Oh, but it’s the same every time. In the wake of this horrific act of terrorism on our soil, we boil the Charleston shooting down to a crazy person, an extremist. While his act was extreme, this individual is not alone. He is not the only man who believes that black Americans are less. Calling him crazy or extreme is an excuse. It makes him more than he is. He is a man—and men are capable of evil acts. Let us not overlook that fact. Let us not see the evils of man and call him a monster. He is a man and he did evil things—evil things we’d do well to remember that anyone CAN do. This isn’t fiction, we aren’t talking about the swamp creature coming out of the lagoon to wreak havoc. The scariest of stories are those we know are possible, because the acts were executed by people.

And that IS what we should be scared of. We should be scared of what people are capable of, of what everyone is capable of. We should look at ourselves and see our lack of care and lack of action and we should be scared of that too.

We should face our complacency and decide that it’s enough. We’ve been silent long enough, blind long enough, in denial long enough. It’s time we stop this and recognize that racism is alive and thriving in our country and we should come together to end it. After all, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I don’t want to be part of the silence anymore.

Mantra from my Heart to Head

I wish I knew you, silly girl.

With your bright lit eyes as you watch life unfurl. 

Are you standing here for passions’ sake? 

Or because you’re afraid of what the world might take?
Oh but I’d tell you that you musn’t hesitate.

Life is this thing that we can scoff at–or celebrate.

There are so many kinds of souls, 

And everyone wants you to fulfill different roles. 
But hear me. Here I am. Listen. 

Who you are is strong, and kind and driven.

Carve the path you want and love,

You’ll always be able to rise above.
Don’t step down, walk that ledge, cross that line. 

You should know I love when you speak your mind. 

Speak to me, let your voice roll off your tongue. 

Don’t let your story be a song unsung. 
Find in you the will to GROW,

You are the only you the world will bestow.

When you feel small and weak and fear you will succumb,

Know that this is a world you can overcome. 
When you forget, I’ll show you the way…

I speak from your heart–to your head–to say…

I am here silly girl, I believe in you. 

For All My Moms

This morning my mommy posted a really cool list on Facebook titled “For My Daughter: 15 Life Lessons I Wish I Had Received Growing Up” and she shared it with her daughters and the daughters of her heart. So I decided it was high time to let all the moms of my heart know just how much they matter.

My mother is an inspiring woman. She’s stunningly beautiful, kind hearted, intelligent, well-spoken and undeniably brave. Her heart is warm and she’s quick to share her love—but you should never underestimate her…as anyone who REALLY knows her also understands that she can be a fierce mama bear as well. Even now, as I’ve come to accept my quasi-adulthood, I still need my mom. And, I’ve also come to realize, I need the mothers of my heart as well.

In the 3rd or 4th grade my parents went on a trip to Vermont and I stayed with our next door neighbors, the Graham family; this was my very first experience of being adopted by an extra mom. Most vacations in the Williams family were taken all together so this was one of the rare occurrences that my sister and I did not join our parents. I loved our neighbors; nonetheless, after a post-dinner phone call with my parents I confronted the fact that I was a homebody and I missed my family. So while my little-girl-self whimpered and boo-hoo’ed, Cheri Graham held me and said I just needed some “mama love”. You know what? I felt better. Turns out, that even if it doesn’t always come from MY mom, “mom love” is a healing force.

Ever since then, I’ve been adopted by mommies all over the place. And while having so many moms in the world definitely has its drawbacks (I have more people telling me to drive safely, commenting on my weight loss and slapping me in the chest when we make rapid stops in the car), I couldn’t be more thankful that so many incredible women have given me love over the years.

So, thank you all for the hugs, the tsk tsk’s when I’ve lost too much weight, the advice about which vitamins I should take, the coddling when I don’t feel well, the hawk eyes that always seem to catch me when I shouldn’t be doing something, the extra comfort when my heart hurts and, above all else, for sharing your mom love. I appreciate every single bit of it.

Putting Pen to Paper

It is hard to explain the feeling that washes through my veins when I lay words on a page; impossible to describe the process behind each selection, why I string this word along with that one or where they even come from in the dredges of my mind. This is something that flows…writing is a substance that seems a part of not just my brain or heart, but perhaps also it is included in each sequence of my genes.

Writers might call my style convoluted or juvenile; editors would probably guffaw at the improper use of ellipses. But here, behind the computer, with my fingers lain gingerly atop the keys, none of those opinions matter. The critiques of my syntax, the skepticism of my voice, those all slip away as if they never even existed….writing is an escape, it’s a place I go to free myself from MY thoughts. Writing it out means I have to analyze myself, explain my point of view and, really, come to terms with my opinions.

But while the process comes easily, the decision to let the words go is impossibly hard. For whatever reason, once those thoughts escape, they do just that—they escape and I can’t reclaim them. I have to commit myself to releasing a story that I won’t be able to tell again, I cannot take it back or retell it—once the story is gone, it isn’t mine anymore. Maybe they’re my thoughts or beliefs or what have you, but the words don’t belong to me. Not once they have left, anyway. Writing isn’t this static thing that I have created; it’s alive. So maybe that’s why this is hard; why it’s tough to release my words into the world—like a parent who watches their child grow, I spend embarrassing amounts of time clinging to the stories I want to tell.

This very post has lingered in my mind for ages. I’ve mulled over every facet of it, I’ve dissected its influences, and I have spent time acquainting myself with what this really means.

Writing is cathartic. When it comes to sad things, or intimate things, as often as I consider letting them flow away, I spend about twice that time convincing myself to keep it all—keep it close. I find myself in a wildly unpredictable argument about two mutually exclusive terms—to let things go or to hold on for dear life?

In the end, the drive to put pen to paper (or, really, fingers to keys) always wins.

Is Tact a Dying Breed?

In my job, I often meet a hundred people at college fairs; on preview events, I’ll probably meet a hundred more and when I visit high schools I have the opportunity to interact with half a dozen students or so. Though I’m not by any means *the best* when it comes remembering names, I insist on trying my darnedest to commit at least faces to memory. I love seeing students I have met at college fairs come to visit the school on preview events—they remember me and I always want to remember them. So here’s the thing, while I can’t always draw a name out of the dredges of memory, I want the opportunity to say “It’s so good to see you again!”; even if that has to be followed by “Remind me of your name,” remembering people, in my opinion, is a great way we can show others that they matter.

This past weekend, I encountered someone I’ve met a couple times before; she’s a friend of an incredible friend of mine and so I’ve always made it paramount that I remember her because of that fact. On this occasion, I happened to be speaking to someone else we both know and I remarked that it was funny how small the world is—that we should both know this person but not ever really discuss it. She looked at me, in a way that implied I was something of an irritant, and she said “Who are you?”—not “Good to see you again, remind me of your name,” not “Oh my, I didn’t even recognize you!” but rather she actually inquired about my identity, as though we hadn’t ever met before. In the moment, I stammered to explain myself. I told her my name, I reminded her how we know one another and I made excuses—“my hair WAS a different color then, so I really can’t blame you…” She never acknowledged that we’d spent an entire evening together less than a year and a half ago and, actually, she never acknowledged we’d even met before that very moment.

Looking back on it, I haven’t been able to rid myself of the fact that I am genuinely offended. Perhaps recognizing others and showing recognition of our encounters is something only I value but even if that were the case, I would think that she would at least navigate such a situation with tact—after all, if I clearly knew her then she should probably know me as well.

But that brings me to a question I often mull over: in the present day of sarcasm as a second language, bluntness as an admirable quality and celebrations thrown over candid speech, has tactfulness fallen to the wayside?

Fair Weather

I used to think arguing was worth my time. That somehow, I wasn’t utterly wasting my breath trying to change other peoples’ minds about me, about the world, about what they believed of me.

I learned something. Arguing is not the same as debating. Changing peoples’ minds is not the same as seeing the light. Questioning is not the same as hearing. So I changed my view. Instead of arguing with other people and fervently attempting to vouch for myself, I decided to become right with ME. Spending time considering what I believe and what I want and how I plan to get it became a goal. I shared those feelings with the people who care about me, the people I love. I learned something else….arguing, proving myself, and trying to get other people on my fence left me jaded, wanting and bitter.

Approaching the world from the perspective of Bernard Baruch in the fashion of “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind,” gave me peace and peace of mind. This wasn’t an overnight journey, I spent time exhaustively trying to convince people I was worthy of something, that I deserved their respect–instead of taking what I deserve, going after what I want and surrounding myself with people who don’t need to be convinced.

As people, we all make mistakes; we occasionally fail to live up to our potential. But we don’t owe success to those people who don’t support us when we fail. We don’t owe consideration to those who walk away when we aren’t our best. Life is exhausting. Being a person is a learning process, it’s full of ups and downs, three steps forward and two steps back. It’s trying enough to live without grudges or hatred, so I choose to let that go. If you don’t value me, that’s okay, I don’t hate you and I won’t blame you. Why? I have room in my heart for anyone and everyone who has room in their heart for me but I’m too busy loving my family and my friends, focusing my energy on those who have carried me through this life to worry about the people who choose to act selfishly, who choose to be fair weather and who choose to love conditionally.

Here’s to those people who love me at my lowest AND my best, who value me as a person when I fail AND when I succeed, who put in love every day even when I mess up. I promise to always do the same.

If the Pentagon Can Do it—SO CAN WE

At lunch today my co-workers and I joined another office on campus for burritos at one of the local favorite spots. It’s always a nice change of pace to meet up with new (read: not new, but rarely seen) people so we can back and forth about what’s going on in the office. On this occasion though we got onto the subject of student tour guides and one of the other individuals adamantly expressed “I HATE when you walk backwards, it’s so wrong.” It would come out that “you’re not supposed to walk backwards because it makes people nervous.” I didn’t expect to be so vehemently opposed to this line of thinking…but, you know, I was. 

As the coordinator for tour guides and a former tour guide myself, I’d say I’m pretty well versed in the ins and outs of what works and what doesn’t on the campus tour. And here’s the really important thing, something my fellow co-coordinator and I have always emphasized with your guides–DO what you’re comfortable with, DON’T do it if you’re not. I think it’s that simple. The best tour guides are students who engage their groups and are confident in what they’re doing. 

Personally, I probably spend less than a quarter of my time walking backwards on tours. That said, it serves a great purpose in how I execute my tours: 1) I have the opportunity to make eye contact (see: connect) with each of my group members. 2) I familiarize myself with their faces and they have the chance to do the same with me. 3) It engages my group in what I’m saying. I’m talking to them and with them, I’m not talking AT them and I’m not talking toward them. 

If the strongest argument against backwards walking tour guides is that it makes visitors “anxious”, then pfffffft, can’t we just get over it? There are a million things in this world that make people anxious. Pickles make my pledgesister uneasy. Little kids on scooters make me incredibly nervous. My coworker feels queasy at the mention of the word “moist”. Anxiety is a part of life, and in the event that I do trip over something while backwards walking…so what? We laugh it off, keep going and have a funny, quirky story for our visitors to tell when they leave. This isn’t the end of the world. 

That said, I don’t walk backwards all the time, I would trip and I would get tired of it. So I adapt my tours to my own pace, style and the desires of my group. My tour guides are encouraged to do the same. If they want to walk backwards they’re free to; if they want to walk forwards, go for it; and if they have their own mish mash of patterns then that is fine too. 

Pentagon tour guides receive extensive training on how to navigate the twisty, winding pathways of that building (which, for the record, includes 19 escalators and 131 stairways) seamlessly while walking backwards. So I say this, if the Pentagon can do it…so can we.