August 29, 2009
Tonight I am supposed to sit down with a fellow group of young feminists and hash out a direction for a new feminist advocacy group. We are supposed to come bearing suggestions and one of my main ones is that we should start a blog or perhaps a zine. My personal experience this summer has really let me see the power of blogging communities and how they can reach out and effect people all over the world. It is an extremely powerful, yet cheap tool to communicate, connect as well as educate. In fact, blogging and the internet in general could very possibly be one of the primary tools of progressive change in our techno-driven society. We just need to be loud enough!
Which brings me to my greatest shame this summer: my poor abandoned blog. I had high aspirations for getting back in the flow of writing about issues I actually cared about. I was excited to escape the confines of academic writing and enter a realm that could be used for clear, honest discussion. I wanted to start the makings of an online persona who would become integrated in this fledgling global community and could potentially make a difference by being heard. It was all supposed to start with this little blog, but I wrote one entry and succumbed to four months of silence.
So what happened to quash my ambitions? Fear, of course. Fear of many things. To put one’s opinions and thoughts on so public a display is terrifying. Anyone could stumble across them. Someone might even figure out who I am. It is the internet, after all.
Some of this fear is valid. I am currently employed in a position in which I am supposed to remain rather politically neutral. I do not know how far this is to extend into my personal life, but I assume that I must be rather careful regardless. Secondly, I do dream of a political career at some point. I do not know whether it will be in parliament or simply connected to government, but I have had it drilled into my head that different is bad and will only harm my prospects. After all, I am already a woman; do I really need to add a label like queer feminist to myself?
But would I be willing to sacrifice parts of myself that are becoming impossible to stifle? My involvement in these online communities has allowed my identity to flourish and grow. I don’t want to hide even in the face of fear. I want to shout and scream and make myself heard. I want to personally bash through the barriers that make my differences unacceptable. I want to be an instrument of change.
However, there is still the fear of repercussion. Maybe it will not come from the anonymous hoards of the internet, but from my family or my friends. Can my fledgling identity stand up against the real world? Am I brave enough?
Everyone who tries to advocate for an opinion off the main stream feels this pressure of silence, but something else beyond the norm makes me fear my own voice even more. When I was a teen I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. My need to be accepted by my peers and betters is amplified by my lack of proper serotonin production. It makes me doubt myself with crippling intensity at times. I am, however, lucky. Over the years I have learned to control my anxiety. Very few people would guess that I have any sort of problem, yet this blog has made me pause and avoid my desire to write my own ideas down, or even comment on any of my favourite blogs.
Since I last wrote, I have gone through a series of rather drastic life changes. I had my wisdom teeth ripped out (I classify holes in my head as a significant life change). I graduated with my first university degree. I moved cities, leaving behind my friends, my home and the only place that I ever truly felt connected to. I sat ready to leap into two more degrees, heading back to the familiarity of academia once more, but found my plans changing drastically as I was offered an year long internship that I could not turn down. Suddenly, I was to start working and dressing up in business clothes. I moved in with my lover and spent four months not working and battling against a storm of personal issues around the idea of being a stay at home anything. All of these happenings obviously had an effect on my desire to write, but after four months of introspection I think I am finally ready to make some personal changes.
No matter what consequences I may face from having beliefs and fighting for them, I must take the next step and become a more dynamic activist. The time has come for me to stop merely thinking and ranting to a few select people, but to reach out, find others and make lots and lots of noise. Whatever the challenges, whatever the fears, I cannot be who I truly want to be without taking some risks, so look out world, here comes one opinionated, passionate, terrified but ready to struggle woman!