Writing helps overcome fear in the new year
Opinion Column: Reason in Revolt
Through careful observation of my Facebook newsfeed and countless conversations with my friends, a lot of us agreed that 2015 sucked and we’re just hoping that 2016 redeems itself from the past struggle boat that was 2015. I describe that year as traumatic, but I’ll own up to much of its craziness.
Last year, I committed myself to the same affirmation feminist writer bell hooks used in her life: “I’m breaking old patterns and moving forward with my life.” This affirmation pushed me into a year of chasing my fears in all the dark corners of my life like a madman.
I don’t recommend anyone to embark on this kind of journey. If you live on a timeline. If you’re looking for success. If you don’t want to look like a fool. If you’re not prepared to have all your walls broken down. Don’t do it. But committing to this journey of self-discovery with all its beauty and pain, I do not regret any of it.
So, what is the first thing that comes into your mind that's keeping you away from growth?
For me, it was my unrequited love affair with writing. And so this journey of chasing my fears away started with my love and fear of writing, a contradictory thought. In the beginning of 2015, this existential crisis had a deep and negative impact in my relationship with both creative and academic writing. I was overwhelmed with bouts of anxiety and depression. The little confidence I had in writing dwindled down to a complete writing paralysis. I declared that this fear of writing had to go, and I was determined to chase the hell out of it.
Fear is like a stranger living in your own home. You know it’s there lurking like a ghost, but kept away from you with a careful distance. So my strategy was to face fear everyday until I get so comfortable that fear gets uncomfortable and decides to leave.
And so I put myself into situations where I gave myself little room to escape from my fear. I enrolled for a bunch of writing-intensive classes and signed up to write for The Daily Targum. I believed that I needed this much pressure — it’s all or nothing. If I’m so paralyzed by this fear, then that means I will fail and I will fail hard. This was my ultimatum to myself.
This battle was not a one-hit wonder. When I started into this journey, my writing was lackluster because I knew it lacked my soul’s voice. But as I grew to be more public with my writing, being open to criticism gave way to an abundance of affirmations that pushed me to keep writing on.
At the same time, something deep inside me knew that the principle, “the personal is political” would carry through my writings. This statement requires of me to be vulnerable to myself and others.
Through my multi-faceted identities, I know that living on the intersection means striving to be aware of how my life experiences can be a point of departure for political and social commentary. Not as a means to compare to struggles, but to shed on light on the lived experiences that connects us marginalized folks together.
And through writing I was able to open my ear’s doors to my soul’s rhythm. Also behind this door exist the deeper parts of myself, where deeper insecurities and fears dwell. This yearning for myself pushed me through fear’s door. And it does not guarantee an easy life, but the struggle brought growth and courage to let the soul take the front center stage of primal decision. Often our thoughts are muddled by other voices convincing us to go to different directions. As a queer person of color struggling to just get by, oppressive forces don’t want me, or anyone like me, to write. They are there to silence us with low wages, mental illness, a nine-to-five and all the other factors that keep us from speaking out.
How does your soul yearn to speak out? For me, it’s through art and writing. I later discovered that writing was not my fear. Instead, it was a gateway kept away from me to face my truths which revealed the lies that I held on to. It was a demonstration of how my radical self-love is a political act.
Committing to battle with fear takes time. Even if I went overdrive, life is still full of struggles. So if someone out there is going through similar struggles. Keep fighting the good fight, but be patient with yourself. It’s okay to fall down. Remember that self-love cannot exist without self-compassion and self-care. And you don’t have to do this on your own. Lastly, surround yourself with a community that makes you laugh, that is shaped with a dozen shoulders to cry on and that is built on nurturing one another’s spiritual growth.
Rachel Landingin is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies with minors in art history and digital, media and information technology. Her column, “Reason in Revolt,” runs on alternate Mondays.