“Your post today is so powerful. I've learned something from each of your posts so far.”
“It's great you regularly get your writing out in public. I admire you for spreading wisdom on important issues in a frank, emotionally vulnerable way.”
“Her words are timely, and she speaks from the heart.”
These are what I have heard about my letters from people who care about me, and their words mean a lot to me. Not only because I seek acknowledgment and affirmation from people around me (I wish I don’t, but that’s how I was brought up.), but because I have a whole lot of negative voices to fight against. They initially came from outside: adults who had power over me during my childhood, supervisors who had power over me in my adulthood, and the society who has power over me throughout my life. Over time, those voices have been internalized and have joined the choir in my head.
Am I writing a “right” message? Does my voice deserve to be heard? Am I taking someone else’s spot? Should I not write about the BLM movement because I’m not Black? Am I making White people uncomfortable? Would I be deemed unfit to teach my students because of my mental issues? Am I overreacting? Am I being too sensitive? Am I justifying myself for not doing more activism work? Would people think I’m wasting my life by playing mobile games? What if my mom sees my letters? Would she disown me? Am I exaggerating my struggles? Am I seeking and hoarding attention? Am I wasting time by writing? Should I do something else more productive or profitable? Do people actually read my letter? Do they like it?
It’s been a month since I started sending a weekly newsletter, and these questions come and go like waves. I am scared to click the “publish” button, and sometimes I don’t succeed. Then I come back to it the following day and try again. If you are reading this, my brave index finger managed to get it done once again.
It turns out I’m not the only person struggling with these negative voices. Campbell Walker, the talented illustrator behind Stuthless, turned them into seven illustrated characters to help himself and his viewers in his video: How to Silence the Negative Voices in Your Head. The method worked, and I was able to identify the characters babbling in my head: Terry the Terrified, Nina the Needy, and Hugo the Hater.
Inner Critic Print Set by Campbell Walker
Not everyone will like my writing, and I need to tell myself that it’s okay. Kate Flowers, a minimalist artist, recently proclaimed that she’s done focusing on people’s negative comments about her. Nobody has said anything negative about my letters yet. Kate Flowers’ YouTube channel has 330K subscribers, and my newsletter has 36. The only person who is saying anything negative is me. Wait, not me, but Terry, Nina, and Hugo.
Fortunately, my desire to connect with you is stronger than the fear Terry, Nina, and Hugo create. Hugo might say nobody needs to hear me cry, but somebody might. By crying out loud through my words and telling the whole world that I’m not okay and the world is not okay, I create space for others to cry with me and know that they are not alone. Caleb "The Negro Artist" Rainey agrees: “There may be a person who needs to hear your story so that they can understand their own better, or so they feel free enough to share theirs with you.”
Are you scared to share your story with others? Why don’t you share it with me then?
PS: You can click on the title of this letter to leave comments or click Reply to write to me. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. Please share this letter with your loved ones.
PPS: Have you missed my previous letters? Here are four I sent out in June: