Let’s face it. They’re everywhere.
In the gym, they stand directly in front of the weight rack while completing an exercise, making it impossible to access what you need.
In the supermarket, they leave their carts in the middle of the aisle, usually on a diagonal, while they browse a shelf, daring you to breach their line of demarcation.
At the soccer field, they meander behind you, cell phone in hand, discussing loudly how they’ll break it to the kids that sometimes grown ups make mistakes and have to “go away for a while.”
At the concert, they assault your field of vision with repeated selfie sessions while singing largely inaccurate lyrics.
They are the Space Invaders, and like their video game namesake, they just keep coming.
What’s even more menacing is there are two types of Space Invaders: those who know exactly who and what they are and simply don’t care and those who have no idea they take up the space they do. The former are beyond reproach and the latter are simply clueless.
So where does that leave the rest of us who just want to grab a bottle of Hidden Valley Fat Free Ranch off the shelf and be on our way.
The answer, my friends, is not to fix or cure the Space Invaders; rather, we need to practice self-awareness to the point at which we don’t become Space Invaders.
What true Space Invaders are incapable of understanding is how their physical presence affects those around them. Whether they constantly hover over a particular student’s desk or find themselves parked in a familiar spot in the faculty lounge, Invaders can dictate a mood, a day, or a culture.
Be mindful of your presence as often as possible. Consider if a disaffected kid needs you to move closer or to stay away. Think about how often you speak during group conversations or staff meetings. Ask yourself if your staff would describe your presence as hovering or lording.
Space Invaders tend to lock in on a certain target and allow the rest of the world to melt away around them. In some ways this can be a virtue as they are keenly focused on what’s in front of them, often literally.
To borrow from my former life as a basketball coach, keep your head on a swivel. Build an awareness of what’s going on around you, both the seen and unseen, to determine if you’re invading space or if someone needs you in their space immediately.
Like their video game namesake, Space Invaders don’t have time for all that pesky reflection. Because they’re so laser focused on what is, it doesn’t dawn on them to consider what was or what will be. They just keep invading, daring the world to stop them.
For the rest of us, reflection is what helps us determine how to best use our space daily. Whether it’s through a journal, a blog, or a happy hour, reflecting on the space we inhabit for and with our schools is what keeps us from joining forces with the Invaders. And for the daring few (like me), it’s totally worth it to ask your teachers what they need and expect an honest response. If that response is, “yeah, man, you’re kinda all up in my business, and I need you to back off,” then stand down.
Whether they’re pixelated and falling from a digital sky or wearing a sharp pants suit and standing uncomfortably close to your clearly private discussion, Space Invaders aren’t going anywhere.
So be warned, friends. And if you are an Invader, kindly let the rest of us through. We come in peace.
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