Have a Story to Tell? Just Write It Because It Might Be Just Right for Someone Else
Two years ago today, I launched RelandoThompkins.com and Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian. For those of you who have been with me from the very beginning, you know that the blog looks and feels very differently now than it did just two short years ago.
Although the blog’s look might be different, my commitment to using this space in hopes of sparking conversations and actions toward individual and collective social change remains the same. Thanks for reading.
Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian: Year 2 Complete
As I enter into year 3, I’d like to share a few thoughts that I think are important to consider, particularly for others who may wish to share their thoughts online to inspire social change.
Real change starts with you.
“Don’t you see? “Change the world one person at a time” means changing YOU first!”—Dr. Michael A. Wright
Focusing solely on what others are doing without undergoing some personal examination of how you might be contributing in other ways can create gaps in awareness and undermine your efforts. We all have a role to play in the problems that exist, and we can also play a role in crafting solutions to those problems.
No one can tell it quite like you.
Do you have something to say? Are there issues that you feel passionate about that you’d like to engage with others around? Just write. Start writing and sharing. Sometimes when talking with others about writing I encounter ideas like “it’s already been said”, or “it’s impossible to come up with something interesting and fresh”.
I encourage you to say it anyway because no one can tell it the way you can. Although you and I could be in the same room, at the same time, going through the same process, each of us could be experiencing the same things in different ways. Your perspective is important and could possibly give a voice to others who may not have been able to find the words themselves before coming across your work.
Not everyone will agree with what you might have to say.
“My intent is to tell the truth as I know it, realizing that what is true for me may be blasphemy for others.”—Gerry Spence
It’s important to understand that your truth and lived experiences may be different from someone else’s, and for a variety of reasons, you may encounter some resistance or backlash. Sometimes your thoughts might contradict longheld dominant and oppressive narratives, or sometimes your sharing may reinforce those narratives, and you may be reminded to examine some unearned privilege you might be displaying.
We’re all teachers and learners, and can grow from sharing about ourselves and by listening to and learning from others. There’s room at the table for all of us, and the difficult work lies in being intentional about creating the space.
It’s also important to understand that sometimes, disagreements can be a good thing, and can give you a level of understanding that you may not have acquired if you’d never taken the opportunity to embrace the conflict and reexamine some of your beliefs.
Know why you’re planning to write, who you’re planning to write for, and in what way you’re planning to use yourself.
Although there are many ways to achieve your goal, it’s always important to have a purpose in mind. Who do you want to receive your message? Will you write anonymously or use your real name? I don’t write anonymously, and was really affirmed by this quote.
“I don’t move through the community in drab camouflage, and I made no vow to live an unidentifiable life… and have never, at any point in my career, aspired to be a “blank slate.” I don’t think it’s even possible.”—Martha Crawford, Writer of What a Shrink Thinks, from her post: Keeping Secrets
To be clear, this is in no way to disparage those who do write anonymously, as each choice has its pros and cons and folks choose to practice one way or another for a variety of reasons. I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a sentiment out there which says that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences (good or bad) of that speech. So think about this carefully and decide what’s best for you.
Never underestimate your reach. Anything can happen.
I’ve written things before, and kept them to myself. But since I’ve started sharing my writing through Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian I’ve been:
- able to connect with a community of people from all over who have similar interests.
- able to develop a modest steady readership.
- published in a book.
- interviewed and invited to publish my writing on other social justice oriented websites.
- invited to join the Board of Directors for Stop Street Harassment
- contacted for a job interview.
- offered a job.
- able to highlight the work of some wonderful individuals through The People Who Inspire Series, and more.
I’ve said these things only to encourage you to share your own thoughts and experiences with others. Nothing comes from nothing. You never know what might happen until you try.
So, are there things that you’d like to highlight?
Do you have a story to tell?
Well if you do, just write it because what you have to offer might be just right for someone else.
Thank you tremendously.
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW