It is time to come clean and admit that one main motive for writing on here is self-serving. I have no shame in admitting this; writing is a lot like being on an airplane and putting on my oxygen mask before I can help those who cannot put on their oxygen masks. The wonderful writer, Esmé Wang, said it perfectly:
Because life’s abstraction overwhelms me, & shaping it into words is one way to feel less overwhelmed #WhyIWrite
— Esmé Weijun Wang (@esmewang) October 20, 2015
This is literally the motive that brings the majority of these posts to life.
Take, for example, A Dumb Fallacy That Needs To Stop Being Popular or The Question About Black Lives That People Need to Stop Asking. Or even How To Be Racist And Have Black Friends At the Same Time. All of these posts were created out of a great deal of discomfort. All of them had me literally shaken to the core, my fingers trembling as I wrote them. In every post, I was upset though the posts did not fully show it. Posts like these come about when my exposure to the gaslighting of marginalized experiences is too much or witnessing arrogant apathy reaches an all-time high. Whenever this happens, I become overwhelmed.
Like a broken dam, my emotions rush in and consume me and my breathing becomes laborious. Instantly, my mind becomes flooded with thoughts in response to the haughty ignorance I witness. But as irony would have it, my writing is not primarily written for them; it is written for me. I should mention that the dam did not once hold water back; it held puzzle pieces, each one holding a fragment of my thoughts. But now that the dam is broken, the numerous puzzle pieces have scattered everywhere. And in order to feel whole again, to feel still in the midst of my trembling, I put the pieces together. I create the bigger picture. I write.
I write because talking to myself is considered culturally unacceptable. I write because I would rather sort out my thoughts alone first before I share them with other people.
I write because it is an act of resistance, a labor that I must participate in for survival’s sake. I write because I need to remind myself that I am not delusional because society (and some people within it) say that I am. My life is my life. It is not a mental playground for anyone.
For me to take abstraction and turn it into something tangible, for me to verbalize my story or my way of thinking, back it up with sources, and/or sprinkle a bit of creative writing here and there — I can rest a little better. I can breathe a little easier. The oxygen mask is on. But it does not end there because this is not a diary or a personal journal that is without an audience.
I learn so much from you.
You put into words what I could not verbalize.
What you wrote helped me become a better person.
These are the words that are said to me that nearly bring tears to my eyes, words that calm the fear of being vulnerable on here. It is in the learning, the affirming, and the self-bettering that I help put the mask on those who share the above sentiments. And it is often that these same people who say those words have put the oxygen mask on me — allowing me to see from their vantage point, affirming my lived experiences, and showing me where I need to improve as a more loving human being.
This is why I am a fan of creative writers and the opinionated empaths, the ones who boldly share their stories and the ones who speak their truth to power. This is why I stan so hard for the prolific poets and phenomenal philosophers whose words are weapons and whose minds are brilliant, whose desire for a more just world drives them to think and create. While words can kill, they use their words in the fight for justice or in the fight for a planet that has access to more stories, creating a more holistic worldview.
It is in the exchange of the written word that writing becomes an ointment to our broken humanity. And even if the mending of wounds is not done on a large scale, we can rest easy knowing that we have done our part. Writing is a communal act of healing. And it feels so good to be part of it.