Forty two blog posts were written on this blog last year.
There is a part of me that wonders why I don’t write as much as I used to – particularly here and in terms of fiction. Do we instinctively shy away from discussing the deepest parts of ourselves – the parts that have been disappointed or scarred – because we are afraid of being exposed and vulnerable? There is a restlessness within me that often I am afraid to face up to – the restlessness that makes me feel I should be doing something bigger, brighter, with more impact for other people than what I am currently doing. And why don’t I write? That is the contradiction I wrestle with each day. What holds me back? I’ve shared a lot of myself already on this blog.
Last year something happened to make me reconsider the way I write and create, and what it is that I am aiming for. Whilst the barren period of creation dragged on, a hangover from 2013, I connected with like-minded people who perhaps aren’t fully aware of how inspiring they really are. In that connection with others, I felt that I wanted to look deeper within myself – to find out why I feel so misunderstood, why it matters to me that I try and live my life through my principles and the dreams I have.
There were many painful setbacks last year, some of which I am still working through – but which I have every hope of leaving behind. If anything, they have made me more determined to learn, to see the world, to understand people and myself better. It is in letting go of things that we find the strength to move on. To finally relinquish control over things that we cannot, and never will, have control over.
And through this letting go, I have learnt much about myself, and what kind of person I try to be. Though I still have many moments of self doubt and confidence crises, what matters more is how I still choose to be open. I choose to listen to people. I choose not to be judgemental or to make people feel their stories and experiences are not important.
It is when I listen to people – without immediately having a response – that I learn what it is to truly be present. Sometimes it is hard to listen like that – to not feel the need to interrupt with what we have to say about the subject – but I am still learning. I like silence where people can just be together and it isn’t awkward. The kind of silence where there are two separate people thinking or daydreaming and there is no pressure to somehow fill that silence with meaningless words.
There is also a sense of freedom regained. When you attach yourself to a group or a culture, there is a part of yourself that you give up, that becomes fuzzy. This is what I have found – that I understand the need for myself to learn to stand alone in my individual strengths and not allow anyone to bend or warp my way of thinking until I become unsure of what I truly feel or believe in. I’ve recognised that when I became a part of the feminist community, then the fatshion community, and yet again another online community within the deaf world, each time I learnt good lessons, absorbed philosophies, and then took them away to think for myself.
In the subsequent years since I closed down my feminist blog, I have learnt a more nuanced and intersectional feminism. I am still a feminist, I still feel, from my fatshion years, that everyone has a right to be treated with respect and to pursue their own bodily agency. But I feel less need to be a part of a group. Perhaps because when I become part of a group, I become too consumed, too wrapped up in one aspect of myself. When I moved to this blog, I found a more balanced space, where I could grow beyond just one niche, one part of my identity.
However, I am still drawn towards these various aspects of my philosophy and different ways of thinking. With wider reading, more contact with various communities, you become wiser and more nuanced in your outlook. Last year, I feel, was a year that I learnt one of my biggest lessons – that there is a limit to what you can do within a community without sacrificing your own ideals.
‘Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.’ – Epictetus.
You need to walk the talk, be your philosophy, treat people well without expecting anything back. This is partly why my writing was on hold – because yet again I found myself wrapped up in a community and not walking my own path. There is a lot to be said for collaborating with people and being inspired by other people who are also creating and making a life built on their own dreams and goals, but not to the extent that it becomes all consuming.
So this year – I will be my own person, strengthen my own ideas and work towards my own goals. I have no doubt that I will also collaborate with people and work with others; but in moderation. I feel that 2015, for me, is the year of doing: of finally doing what I have wanted to for so long.
‘Be kind to yourself in the year ahead.
Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.
Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.
Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them.
Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.’
– Neil Gaiman.