"Stay afraid, but do it anyway": Why I dare to write

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com

I have a confession to make: I’m a blogger who dreads writing.

Aside from the conversations I’m having with African feminists about what drives them to fight gender equality, I had envisioned Eyala as a space where I would document my own journey as a woman and a feminist. Yet the Musings section of the blog has so far remained glaringly empty.

I’ve been putting off writing in the most convincing of ways: by pretending I was preparing. I’ve spent months studying books about writing and blogs about blogging. I’ve scoured countless stationery shops in a quest for the perfect notebook size (pro tip: B5 is life). I have run out of ways to procrastinate. It’s time to do it or drop it.

Yet as I write these words, I feel thirsty, hungry and sleepy all at once, as if every cell in my body were conspiring to close the laptop and do anything other than this. The prickles I feel in my fingertips are not from excitement but from the fear that has kept me silent for too long.

“What are you so afraid of?” you may ask. The list seems endless. I am afraid to revive wounds and anger I had skillfully managed to hide in a corner of my mind. I am afraid that bleeding on paper will cause me to bleed out as I expose my vulnerabilities to myself and the world.

Most of all, I am afraid of speaking out online. As a deep thinker with an annoying tendency to reflect in cycles (and sometimes change my mind), I’m bound to say something stupid that I can never take back. Not to mention leaving myself wide open to the cruelty that typically targets any feminist who dares to use her online platform to challenge the status quo. I can’t imagine the strength it takes Rokhaya Diallo or Mona Eltahawy to stand so beautifully tall as thousands of faceless trolls trash their names online every day, but I bet I don’t have it.

Photo credit: pixabay.com

Photo credit: pixabay.com

For the longest time, silence has been my shield. I spoke eloquently, but only about matters I was an expert on. Lately though, silence has been more suffocating than comforting. I used to think that doing my job as a women’s rights advocate was good enough but, in a world where women’s bodies are used as battlefields and rapists are being freed because their victims’ underwear is considered flirty, I am compelled to share my reflections from that work and add my voice to the growing chorus of activists shouting down patriarchy worldwide.

It’s time to get vocal, and it’s time to get personal. If the #MeToo movement has taught me one thing, it’s that women hold tremendous power when we come together and anchor our advocacy in the realities of our lived experiences.

Having recently suffered through a painful burnout, I’ve spent the past year trying to decondition my mind from considering introspection as a distraction from an unending quest for academic and professional excellence. Writing has been instrumental to that process.

Each word I dare to write helps me break free from the expectations that weigh on my shoulders and helps me articulate thoughts I had so far not dared to form. I write to figure out who I really am, to unbecome as much as I also become.

So, I am equally thrilled and terrified to welcome you to Eyala’s musings section, where I will document my journey of self-discovery as a woman and a feminist – and start conversations with you about what you’re learning from your own.

I still have no idea where I’ll find the courage to click on the “publish” button, but every time I doubt myself, I will remember these words by the late Carrie Fisher:

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.
— Carrie Fisher

Let’s come together and do it anyway. Let’s gather around this digital campfire and start telling our stories.