The Writing Challenge, Challenging Me
Hey Kultured fam, and happy belated Thanksgiving! Hope your day was filled with love, family, food, and a little shade when appropriate. 😉
It’s funny how the holidays bring opportunities to reconnect with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. I say this as someone who has found herself catching up with a few people over the past week. In several instances, as I sent out my customary “Happy Thanksgiving!” texts, I was afforded chances to speak at length with long lost friends. I took time to reflect on things I’m thankful for, people I’m grateful to know, relationships that need to be re-evaluated, and things needing to be done. And like most of you, I also spent plenty of time scrolling through various social media platforms to see people’s Thanksgiving plate successes and failures lol.
As my Thanksgiving break came to a close, I happened to stumble upon a college classmate’s post about a writing challenge. It’s no secret that my consistency in posting to this blog is less than acceptable, but I’m slowly trying to do better and find ways to make myself write more often, whether I end up posting it or not. Seeing the post about the writing challenge seemed like a much needed spark of encouragement to finally get to work, so I reached out to my classmate to convey my interest in joining. I had assumed that I would just be sent one of those flyers that regularly floats on Instagram giving a list of topics for me to address over the next 30 days, on my own. Instead, I was added to a group message with several other participants, including other college acquaintances whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to since we last shared a campus.
I quickly came to realize that this challenge was a bit different and would prompt me to do more than just write something everyday with no one to check me if I fell off (which as y’all know by now, I’m very prone to do lol). I wouldn’t be spending the month privately recording journal entries. Instead, we would all be writing in accordance with daily topics, and then sharing with each other in the group message. No limits and no requirements other than being respectful in the shared space.
How are you going to feel vulnerable writing something for people to read and you have a whole blog, Kristian?
Good question and it’s valid. I can explain.
It’s now Day 4 of the challenge, and I’m already learning things about myself from it. Specifically, I’ve been forced to acknowledge that despite my outspoken personality, I do have my own issues with vulnerability. Those issues had me apologizing in the group message on Day 2 for feeling like I was writing too much and I realized that they have also played a role in my blogging inconsistency. You see, I have no problem debating with people face-to-face or on social media. I’ve never been one to remain silent when asked for my opinion on something, and I’ve honestly provided my opinion on countless topics over the past year of my blog’s existence; you all just haven’t seen it published.
For some reason, when I created this platform, I became worried about being palatable to everyone who might read my words. For the first time, I’m writing on a publicly accessible domain with the ability to be as unfiltered as I choose. I invested in ownership of this platform for that very reason, but believe it or not, I’ve struggled with trying to decide just how unfiltered I want readers to see me be.
I can attribute some of this to the lifelong mastery of code switching that most of us as Black people (especially Black women) learn to perform early, as we navigate through the various environments of our lives. I’m so accustomed to feeling like I have to present different elements of myself to different groups within specific spaces, that I haven’t quite known what to do here. I speak one way in front of my parents and family elders; another way amongst colleagues and acquaintances; yet another way in academic spaces or papers; and another way amongst my closest, most trusted friends. I have felt the need to conform my speech depending on my current environment for so long, that I’ve had no idea what to do in this space of my own where all of those groups may possibly see my thoughts at any period of time out of my control.
What if I say TOO much? What if I’m TOO blunt? What if my parents read this? What if someone from work reads this? Will they look at me differently? What if I offend someone I care about? What if I receive bad feedback, or no feedback? What if my writing is not well received?
These are all things that I’ve pondered at one point or another since this blog launched December 1, 2017. When they’ve crossed my mind, I’ve usually allowed these questions to become excuses for not writing. Truthfully, I’ve been scared of what may happen if I allow everyone to see all of me: my Black pride, loud mouth, and blunt opinion, all in one place, unfiltered and unrestrained.
Clearly, this writing challenge is already working if it’s made me think this hard about the constrictions of my own comfort zone. I chose to step out on a limb by contacting my friend about it initially, and I’ve continued to walk further out on that limb each day that I’ve responded. In doing so, I’ve been granted a safe space to be myself with other individuals who probably have felt some level of the same reserve. I see their responses just as clearly as they see mine, and things are going just fine. Because of this, I don’t want to quit; I actually want to try to see this through.
So, in the spirit of trying new things, trying to be more productive, and keeping myself accountable, I am also inviting all of you in to witness my writing challenge.
For the next month, I will make daily blog posts to share with you everything that I write for each of these thirty days. There is no solid day-to-day structure for my responses; I’ll honestly just be winging it. Some days you may get a novel, some days you may get a paragraph, and other days you might get a poem. But in challenging myself to stop being afraid of being my full self for all to see, I find it imperative to let you follow along with my progress; whether people end up thinking I suck or not. I know who I am and am comfortable with myself internally; but it is high time that I learn to be okay with whatever external conclusions others may draw while observing me doing so.
So here goes nothing. As the month goes along, let me know what you think about my responses in the comments here or on social media. Also feel free to join along. I’d love to hear about the progress you make.
Be strong. Be Honest. Be confident. Stay Kultured.