On April 16, 2007, things changed. Life changed. One moment, I was in class listening to my teaching assistant’s lecture, and the next moment, my classmates and I are pushing a table and desks against our door to prevent a shooter from entering our classroom. It was in that moment – my perspective on safety changed forever.
I like to think about safety on a Likert scale from 1 to 5. 1 is someone who never thinks about safety. 5 is someone who always thinks about safety. Before the shooting, I was a 1. I was naïve. I took my safety for granted everywhere I went. After the shooting, I was a 5. I thought about my safety 24/7. I was hypervigilant and obsessed about safety. Today, I’m a 3. I have plan for the places I am most often. I am prepared, and informed, but neither naïve nor obsessive. We want to aim to be in the middle of this Likert scale. It’s not good to be on either end of the spectrum.
It’s important to feeling safe. If we don’t feel safe, we are carrying some level of a fight-or-flight response everywhere we go. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a pyramid of human needs. The base is our psychological needs, items such as food air, and water. Once those most basic necessities are met, the next most necessary human need is a sense of safety and security. This is why it is so important to find the balance between having a sense of safety, so that we can continue to be fully present, and having a plan, so that we can be prepared.