This response essay first appeared on Rachel Haywire’s personal Medium.
“No matter what is occurring in your life, always remember that you have an inner Grace that cannot be tainted. Nobody can take that away from you.”
“During my annual holiday depression last year, I remember coming across a piece by Anna Gát that changed my outlook on Grace. Let me explain how this all begun. I grew up in a middle upper-class family, but I was treated quite poorly because I lacked what was considered to be Grace. I was clumsy due to my autism and had no understanding of social norms or holiday etiquette. I preferred hanging out with punks and freaks than dealing with the formalities involved in this upper-crust society of Grace. You might say that my view of Grace had been tainted. Yet when I read Anna’s piece, my thoughts about the word and the concept itself began to change.
‘I want to keep thinking about a New Grace, Grace 2.0 — not just the #blessed at the end of a tweet, not DAILY GRATITUDE on the cover of an inspirational notebook…’
This hit me hard. As anyone with an Instagram account knows, there are thousands of influencers focused on talking about how #blessed they are, and their attitude is so banal that it cheapens the entire idea of Grace. So, what would a New Grace look like? I began to think about this too. Perhaps Grace wasn’t just some gatekeeping mechanism for snobs. Perhaps it was something higher than we could even begin to articulate. Perhaps Grace was a tool that we could work with, even if we were not religious; an inner blessing that we could carry within ourselves.
Anna talked about what it was like to stay up until 6 AM editing for 7 days in a row. Now, this was a life that I knew about: freelancing as a designer while running an early-stage startup afforded me very little rest. At any time, anything and everything could collapse; and sometimes it did/does. Just look at what is going on with the coronavirus now. Yet no matter what the circumstances are, you can always take the high road and keep your personal honor. You can always keep your Grace. I’ve dealt with more than my share of horrific and precarious situations, yet even at my hardest moments, I have stayed true to myself and my inner core. This was that Grace that Anna was talking about. I was already living it, and for that, I was blessed.
No matter what is occurring in your life, always remember that you have an inner Grace that cannot be tainted. Nobody can take that away from you. No matter what you lose. No matter how many times you fail. No matter how many times you fall. No matter how many times you scream. You have that inner Grace inside of you.
‘But what if one assumes that one has intrinsic value — that one has Grace? Would that call for greater future-self-respect?’
Our self-respect transcends abusive relationships. It transcends a bad past, a bad decision, a bad idea, bad sex, and bad work. Our self-respect involves forgiving ourselves while learning from our mistakes. We can start right now because what better time is there? If you assume that you are blessed, you are able to operate with a mindset in which Grace is at your very core. Even if you are extremely clumsy, you can bless yourself with Grace.
Allow me to add that I have seen Grace in the lower corners of society. From renegade raves to underground warehouse parties, Grace is a sense of being blessed inside. The dancing of that apocalyptically dressed cybergoth in her purest element, angry at the world yet in love with herself as the Queen of the Abyss. That, too, is Grace.
The social norms we have attached to Grace need to be updated. Many people think they must always be soft and fragile in a way that is some exaggerated female stereotype. Yet Grace is so much more than that! Grace 2.0 is a way of relating to the world, knowing yourself for better or worse, yet always giving it your best. Let us raise a glass to the New Grace.”