I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me over the course of the past year, primarily since speaking at an “Our Stories” event hosted by the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine (that was an incredible experience – it was such a privilege to hold space with so many and to hear so many heartbreaking/inspiring/tragic/hopeful stories) and then, of course, since going more public with this blog.
Sometimes, these people have shared some of their own experiences with me. I’ve had conversions on society and inclusiveness and identity and mental health and politics and just being that certainly wouldn’t have happened without this sharing. Many have extended offers of support. People have also approached me to thank me, and to say that they’re not ready yet to talk about their own issues yet but it helps to have people among their peers who are.
Here’s the thing (well, here are two things): Firstly, you might never be ready. Secondly, that’s perfectly okay. You don’t need to be ready. You don’t owe anyone your story. No one else is entitled to your experiences, to your truths, to your inner emotional states. Your experiences are no less real, no less valid, because you haven’t chosen to share them.
Dialogue on social issues is important. Talking about your personal experiences can be helpful, can be validating, can be liberating, can be any number of positive things. It can also be deeply uncomfortable, let alone scary; it can bring up any number of unwelcome feelings like embarrassment, guilt, shame, pain. Talking about these things might just not be something you want to do. This is so, so, so okay.
The things I share publicly are usually things I’ve had ample time to process. What I present online is a curated version of events. Just because I post about things that have been or are difficult for me doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I’m not able/willing to share. This is okay. I share things that I’m able to talk about now, if only in the hope of presenting something that someone else can connect to. It’s so very easy to feel isolated.
I’m always more than happy to have discussions about hard things. There are many issues I’d love to lend my voice to; there are issues I don’t know enough about yet, and so I listen instead. I so, so appreciate the time so many of you have taken to reach out to me, to offer support, to share your own difficulties. Thank you. I’m more than happy to listen, to contribute when I feel I have something to add to the conversation, to learn. But, also, you don’t owe me your story.