I’ve followed you for a while and always see you posting about subjects that I don’t see many people post about. It’s something I’m used to seeing from celebrities or politicians but not so much from “regular” people. I think it’s rad and you’ve made me see lots of things in a different light but I don’t know how to put any of it into practice. How do you find the confidence to say stuff that might make people uncomfortable? How can I be a better and more vocal ally? Thank you for your advice I love it!
That’s so nice! I’m glad you’ve found something positive and meaningful in what I consider my small contribution. In my case I would say that it’s just a natural inclination.
I was a really shy kid. The kind whose face would turn red when confronted or even simply addressed by anyone. I held my feelings in a lot and suffered through my thoughts in silence. As I grew older and watched people I love face injustice after injustice, and after facing a few of my own, something in me just shifted. I suddenly had a voice, a very loud, unwavering one, and when I understood the power of it, I never stopped using it. Especially when considering all of those who were still trapped, and perhaps would forever be, in the self imposed prison that I once had to escape from.
It’s not easy.
Prepare to be scrutinized. Prepare to be confronted, challenged, ridiculed and maybe even shunned. Prepare for all of these things, but also prepare to receive some of the most genuine, vulnerable and human reactions. The kind that leave you stunned and make you examine yourself to a degree you probably haven’t before. Sometimes those reactions are the most painful. The things I have learned from other people’s pain are like tabs I will never close in the browser of my mind.
If you feel strongly about something, chances are that someone, somewhere either once did or currently does, too. We’re all unique and no two people experience life the same way, sure. But there’s a common thread binding all of our experiences together. I can’t explain this, as I barely understand it myself, but it’s real. I don’t like to surround myself with too many like minded folk, whether in real life, on my bookshelf or online, because what that ultimately does is create an echo chamber, and as we all know that doesn’t really move us forward. I’m not suggesting deviating too far from your core morals or values, but different points of view will help you to sharpen yours. Listening to others is vital. The same way that you said that I spoke to you when I was shouting into the void, there’s someone waiting to be spoken to by you. The people we look up to look up to someone else. Nobody was born with the mic; it’s passed down. We all have our own perspective, our own experience, our own two cents. And if it can possibly create change, wouldn’t you want to be (one of) the catalyst(s) for that?
My biggest tip would be to never think that you have all of the answers, or even any of the right ones. You have your answers. You’re as flawed and endlessly fascinating as the rest of us. That’s precisely why we need you at the table.
The most important tip that was shared with me some time ago was to first ask yourself if what you’re saying is necessary or helpful. Is it advancing the dialogue, or even creating one, because there is a need for it in the world? For example, nobody needs edgy hot takes about how mental illness is a choice and is sometimes weaponized by those afflicted by them. Yawn. But do we need more conversations centring mental illness and our own accountability? Yes. There’s a way to say things that suck without sucking. I’m not a master in this domain by any means. I’m so comfortable dissecting and critiquing myself that I sometimes forget that the blunt, self-deprecating language I find funny might not be funny to others. So I’ll add, be prepared to fail. With some fine tuning, you will begin to fail upward.