July, 4th 2014: my first blog post ever went live.
To indulge the toxicity that is my imposter syndrome, I went back and read it because for a while now, my writing (and by extension, my life) has felt pointless. So I guess to prove to myself that my insecurities are right; that maybe I should stop wasting my time; that maybe I should put an end to the spectacular failure that the last four years have been, I needed to know what is it the handful of you guys saw in my writing in the first place. Quick question: do you guys cringe as much when you read my old posts because at some point, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open.
But in the embarrassment lies a silver lining: proof of my growth. I am in no way, shape or form the kind of writer I envision myself as, but I am a better writer in more ways than one. More importantly however, my writing (and this blog) has become a lot more than the ramblings of a depressed, suicidal girl. For starters, I ramble a lot less. Guys, I know it may not seem like it, but believe me, I do. As trivial as it may seem, I mostly write to write, not to stay alive; not to distract a destructive mind.
Even with this realization, I still struggle with appreciating the continued existence of this blog. In a lot of ways, it feels like it has outlived its purpose. For starters, I am not suicidal anymore (anxiety has taken its place but we’re focusing on the positives.) Moreover, I find that I increasingly resent that wringing my pain makes for good content. Ernest Hemmingway did say, “There’s nothing to writing really. Just sit at a typewriter and bleed.” While I do agree that vulnerable writing is the best kind of writing, for both personal and political reasons, I am refusing to exploit my pain, much less for relatable content. As black women, we’re conditioned to endure impossible pain, we’re taught to think of endurance as the hallmark of strength. And so we have an entire publishing industry selling versions of this narrative: black women are in pain, but don’t you worry, it makes them resiliently beautiful.
As a woman and a writer that hopes to leave my mark in the publishing world, I am wary of perpetuating this single narrative. So yes, I do want African women especially to be able to talk about their pain because I do know it makes the people that hurt us uncomfortable and if we keep making them uncomfortable, we’ll keep moving closer to a world that doesn’t hurt us. Zora Neale Hurston did say, “If you’re silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” But I do want this expression of pain, through writing or otherwise, to be on our own terms. It certainly shouldn’t be because surviving an abusive marriage will make for a best-seller. I want black women to write about other things too, no matter how seemingly mundane.
I will admit, I am that cliché writer that doesn’t quite know how to write happiness. I will probably continue to write about my pain. I do want it however to be a choice. Somewhere in the past few months, my blog posts became a matter of obligation, a need to keep my audience engaged. This might sound foolish, but I did enjoy the intermittent periods in the last four years when my mind wasn’t shooting darts at my spirit and my writing was actually pleasurable, not a coping mechanism.
My phone pinged a few days ago to congratulate me on my four years blogging. I was aimlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed, trying to ignore my mind. Seeing that notification, I thought, “It took only four years for my life to make that 360 degrees turn.” Four years later and I’m back to depressed with a side of anxiety. Once again, my writing is coming from a place of hurt, anger, despondence and desperation and it’s so draining, I can’t even leave the house. I spent the rest of the day trying but failing to delete my blog.
It was in search of the travesty of a blog post that would make me pull the plug that I came across a semi-redeeming reason to keep it. In my first blog post, I wrote, “This is for everyone who has felt invisible at some point in their life. Like the earth rotated on any other axis but their own. This is for anyone who would give anything for people to see them in just a slightly different light. This is to realizing that they don’t need to; that we are the beholders of our beauty. This is to loving our weirdness and embracing our queer selves. This is for everyone; we all have our struggles, right?”
You grow and change but some things stay constant. My writing still is for people who’ve felt invisible at some point but more than anything I want it to be obvious that for me, that demographic is black women. Man, it’s mad how aware my nineteen year old self was. This excerpt is a smack in the face, proof of how powerful my subconscious is. I may have figured out which group of people I want represented in my writing, but my sexuality has freshly become a riddle I’m extremely hesitant to solve. Because when I said queer, I thought I meant weird. But now, I am not so sure.
So maybe because I’m curious about what clues my twenty three year old self will have for my twenty seven year old self, I’m inspired to keep documenting my growth. But more than that, I want other African women to document their lives too, for catharsis, for posterity. If you’re an African woman who’d be interested in writing or illustrating on this platform, you’re welcome to do that via the contributions page.
If you’re an ally interested in amplifying the voices of African women, you can subscribe, spread the word and/or donate to us via patreon.
In bid to protect my currently fragile mental health (did you guys catch that? I was hella subtle), I will not be publicizing my posts to Facebook come August. If this affects how you receive my blogposts, you can subscribe below or follow my Twitter and/or Instagram.
Shall we misbehave?