Your sense of agency can be described as your perception of control in any given situation. Now, yeah, it varies. You feel less agency at work, for example, because someone else owns the product or project, or you need to consider other opinions. You get the idea. Most people have a robust sense of agency in their own lives. They decide where they are, where they want to go and how they want to go about it.
I didn’t have any sense of agency for the largest part of my life. Every time I fucked up, hurt someone, acted like an asshole or just stirred up drama, I did so out of a complete lack of any sense of control over my situation.
“X started it!”
“Y pushed me to do it! I couldn’t help myself!”
“Z hurt me first so I hurt them back!”
I could find ways to blame everyone and anyone else for my own actions. Everyone had the right of it, and so of course I had to go along with what they directed. I wallowed in my own insecurities and inability to conceive of and direct my own way through life. I never extended myself to you, whoever you are. I never made myself available to plan with you, to share your vision and grow it together, because it takes confidence to be vulnerable.
We talk about vulnerable people and vulnerable situations as a negative, but vulnerability needs to exist in order for any association to succeed. Being vulnerable is a display of trust. When you’re vulnerable with someone else, you say “I trust you, so I’ll let you in on my plans. I trust you’ll respect it and share yours with me.” What I never realised was that you need to be confident to be healthily vulnerable. I didn’t possess any sense of control over my life, so I didn’t trust you. I didn’t trust you, so I acted behind your back. I blamed everyone else because I was clearly just a leaf in the breeze being blown wherever.
With all the above said, what can I do about my sense of agency? I spent a couple of months over the summer in a place where I made everything right and wrong in my life my fault. Yeah, many things are my fault. I did bad things. I hurt people in bad ways. Fucked up ways. My life isn’t all my fault though. I control my life. I control my actions, you yours, they theirs. We’re each the puppet master who drives our own lives. There’s no hidden hand which makes us choose one path over the other.
I want to be happy and safe, with my own roof over my head and peace being the rule of my life. I want to be vulnerable for everyone I love and trust. I want to let me out and let you in, O Friend.
Abuse brought me here, given and taken in turn. My dad abused me, classmates bullied me, other people neglected me. They created someone who paid it forward and said “that’s not my fault because I’m a victim.” To answer what was beautifully asked of me, I plan to be good with my one wild and precious life.
These are only words.