I stood in a line with sixty other women that were in my community. The room was small and felt rather crowded but none of us minded. It was cozy. This week, one of our members proposed we do an activity that could help bring us closer together. The game was simple. Someone would call out a statement and if it applied to you then you would step forward or “step over the line”. At first only one person was calling the statements: “step over the line if you have siblings”, “step over the line if you have a pet”, “step over the line if your favorite color is blue.”
The room was mostly quiet. Everyone seemed to be anticipating the next question. I was surprised by how many people stepped forward for some of the answers. I learned a lot more than I thought I would by simply watching. After a statement was called, I looked around to see how everyone answered. I stood next to a few women that I didn’t know well and was happy to find out how much we had in common. It gave me a way to connect with some of the women I had always wanted to approach.
More people started to call out statements which made the activity become a bit more fun. “Step over the line if you want to be an artist.” “Step over the line if you ever went running for no real reason.” “Step over the line if you have no idea what you want to do in the future.” The women stepping forward were no longer silent. Some people gave sassy responses as they stepped forward and everyone laughed.
Some of the women decided to call out more serious statements as the laughter died down. “Step over the line if you’ve dealt with anxiety.” “Step over the line if you have trouble talking about your emotions.” Many people stepped over the line. Almost everyone had a problem with something. And I found out later that some were too shy to step forward. I thought I would be too, but I caught myself off guard by stepping forward a few times. Some of us hugged each other after stepping back into the line. I hugged several of the women around me. As the game continued, I made mental notes of who I wanted to talk to afterward. And I was sure the others were doing the same. The room fell into silence and I thought the game was over when someone called out:
“Step over the line if you’ve ever attempted suicide”
Everyone looked around, unsure of who had spoken. I could feel the tension in the air. Moments passed before anyone moved. But someone stepped forward. Followed by another. Followed by another. Over half of the room stepped over the line. I watched everyone stare at their feet: unsure if they wanted to be open. They returned to the line and the game stopped. I hugged several of the women next to me. They were shaking. I was shaking.
I realized how unaware I was to the struggles of the women in that room. The people I thought I was close with. The people I wasn’t close with at all. I could tell they were unaware of each other too. Most of the people I talked to said the same thing: they thought they were alone.