Breaking the silence

Writing the last post, I realized that a lot of what I’m going through now would seem to be the consequence of having been a largely silent child.  I don’t consider myself an intensely private person; at the same time, I get intimidated by social media (I’m not even sure of the last time I went to Facebook, though I know I initiated contact with someone and then forgot about it), and form deep, intense connections with a very small number of people.  The only reason I’m on social media in the first place is that it was a requirement for my Library & Information Science program.

Is blogging considered social media?  I don’t know.  I did start out my first blog, Hidden Jewels, a very long time ago; seven years, unless I’m mistaken.  I would have been 28, and have just entered the job market.  At the time, I was in the Business program at the college from which I ended up getting an Art AA.  I bailed on the Business program because of realizing the difficulty of making a living at craft jewelry.

Even if I did start my own business, I would have to have a side job to make ends meet.  I eventually turned to Library work as a primary way to survive, which would give me the time and funding to be creative on the side — in some way that I wouldn’t have to rely on jeweling and/or beading to feed myself.  Though I would like for it to be possible, I simply don’t have the skills right now to sell my work for as much as I’d need to sell it in order to survive and be assured not to be in poverty.  It would be easier if I were a bench jeweler, but I’m not that interested in Fine Jewelry.  (Except in electronics and engineering applications, gold is overrated.)

I should probably read more in that Quiet, book.  Basically…as I grew up I was unable to be unknown, and the publicity (which had to have been a slew of rumors going on behind my back) was not a good thing.  I’m not sure how much I want to recount, here, but a lot of my private time at recess ended up being spent making crafts and dealing with things which were, in my perception, either the sensation of the spirits of other speechless life, or imaginative projections.  At a certain point you get tired of your (human) “friends” hurting you.  I learned that it was better to be without friends than to be with abusive “friends.”

I think the problem is that I was too open.  Plus, I didn’t really know much about racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia, all of which ended up impacting me, pretty much concurrently.  Given the applicability of Intersectional Feminism, here, it becomes apparent that statistically, given my genetic background and my social environment, things were not laid out for me in such a way that I had much of a shot at lifelong mental health.  I’m really lucky that I’ve had no suicide attempts or hospitalizations, thus far.

Maybe this is the reason I withdrew into myself to the point that I channeled all that energy out into my writing.  Right now, when I write fiction, it feels escapist, but it’s pretty much an escapist nightmare more than anything, which …kind of isn’t the definition of escapism.  Historically, though, I’ve had issues with embodiment which have been related both to gender and race (if you’re new to the blog, I’m mixed-race, but primarily identify with the side of my family I was raised around).

In any case, the world of my dreams — and illusions — has long been safer and more compassionate than the world I live in.  Most of this hasn’t been disclosed, though, except in my writing.  Maybe it’s because of this that I was drawn to writing.  Though I don’t think I’ve been an avid reader, outside of what had been assigned at school and what I occupied myself with as an alternative to being alone (the library was good for this)…I have been someone for whom writing has been necessary.  It’s a way to keep track of and organize my thoughts.

Otherwise…there was a long period when I didn’t know who I was.  Maybe because of a lack of social interaction?  I’m not sure.  I did develop my own internal “social” spiritual interaction, but that was probably a last resort from being externally understimulated.  It doesn’t happen so much, now.  I’m not certain why, though I suspect it has to do with medication, and more outlets with which to show myself who I am.  Of course, writing is instrumental in this; my long-term memory isn’t great when it comes to remembering who I was in 2011, or what I was dealing with, etc.

Writing for an audience seems like a different thing, though.  I really, really am not used to other people reading, and responding to, what I write!  It’s almost as though I were talking, and someone is actually listening to me.  😉  I have gotten used to making speeches as well, but it still makes me uncomfortable when I am expected to take, and defend, formal positions on problems which I know I don’t fully understand.  I know it’s really easy to go wrong, that way; and it seems understanding would be desirable before being forced and/or expected to spit out an answer.  It’s the major reason I tried to get my brain sorted out before even seriously considering testosterone.  I was terrified I’d make a decision for the wrong reasons, and then be unable to undo the damage.

But maybe that’s something social people do?  Take positions on problems they don’t fully understand and rest in (ignorant) faith that they’re right?  I’m not sure.

Maybe the issue is being pushed or forced to make a decision or take a stance when one is not a warrior type, but more of a balancer, or a person who sees multiple factors acting on a situation without assuming that any side people are taking up even addresses the correct problem.  (Something I learned in Critical Thinking is that it is indeed possible to use language to construct nonsensical propositions.  Often the key to solving a problem is asking the right questions.)

It is very much easier not to take a stance when one is silent.  It’s easier to run silent — except when one reaches the point that it becomes imperative to say something and actually stand for something and actually deal with the consequences — both positive and negative — for having done so.  If it’s something that really checks out, which is really important or urgent, it’s not an issue:  things need to be addressed, and worked out through dialogue (what is dialogue called with more than two sides?).

But the problem is that people rarely if ever question whether what they think is right actually is right, and this seems to hold across the board.  It seems to be something about the nature of the brain…which I don’t personally understand; but I’m sure we agree that we can’t all both disagree, and also be right, about everything all the time — and just because it’s you who thinks it doesn’t make it right.  (I use the second-person tense here because I want to make it clear that this is not a weapon to throw at people who disagree with you.  If this observation is correct, it applies to everyone.  It applies to me, it applies to you.)

Anyhow; it’s much easier to exist…for me, just to plain exist, without taking a stance all the time.  And I’m certain that this is related to growing up as a silent child.  But there are times at which it is necessary to speak up.  For me, an outlet was necessary, and that outlet was writing and storytelling, in lieu of speaking and socializing.  At the same time, reading…does help.  But I am still in a place where I need to see my own words reflected back on me, maybe to see myself as a person.  To me, language is a mirror, through which I can see myself.

Though maybe, as I “come out” further and further with regard to both my disability and all the other hidden levels I contain, my life will become richer for it, and I will be not just surviving, but living.

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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

3 thoughts on “Breaking the silence”

  1. Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post! It had never occurred to me that not saying what one thinks on a given issue makes it more likely that one might just not take a side at all. Or at least that’s what I take from your musings. I suppose this begs the question of how useful crafty diaries really are: Does it matter whether I decorate my own thoughts (something which I have started doing) if I still never share them with others? Hm. I will keep pondering this. On whether social people think that they are right with everything they are saying whereas quiet people aren’t – I think it’s more complicated than that. I am pretty vocal myself and I don’t think I am right all the time. To the contrary: I am a learner, always, and I am often wrong. But how would I ever know that if I never share my thoughts (or art production or anything, for that matter) with others? Everyone is imperfect and that’s why speaking sometimes makes as much sense as being quiet, I think. It just depends on the situation and on individual temperament.

    1. Hello Antje,

      Thank you for your thoughts! I don’t have time to respond right now, but I saw this comment had been waiting for a while, so I approved it. I will attempt a substantive response later tonight…

    2. Hi again Antje,

      Apologies for taking so long, but I wanted to give you a quality comment, and didn’t have time before work or on break. I am not sure that the way the post was read was equivalent to what I intended…(it happens). What I was thinking of in this post was one of my classes from last semester, and the professor requiring us to pick a stance on a controversial topic and then support it (while showing it to the rest of the class). I was intensely uncomfortable with this, not only because there seemed to be a default “correct” response for every question, but because the questions themselves were complex, and the “correct” responses were dogmatic, not taking into account the complexities and realities of the situation.

      I also happen to know this one guy who is opinionated on everything and likes to bring up controversial topics, even though he isn’t qualified to talk about most of it, gets his facts wrong, etc. I’m not sure what’s up with him. I’ve just noticed this trend, and am wondering if it is a cultural thing which I just don’t get because my family didn’t raise me that way.

      I think that if it makes you happy to decorate your diaries, go for it! The thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you don’t plan to share it, the work is for you, you know? It’s not bad to do nice things for yourself. 🙂 I think denying yourself an activity that makes you happy because it’s just purely for you…I’m going to repeat something someone told me and say, “you just have to love on yourself,” meaning, take care of yourself. You’re important too, you know?

      Yes, I…this post was also referencing my hesitance to share so much of my life online. There *are* things that I want to share, but there is risk in sharing. Of course, there’s community in sharing, too, and maybe it would be best for me to remember that…

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