I want to stand up and speak with my voice. But what–or rather who–is my voice? I know that for the most part my voice is an amalgamation of others’ voices, sometimes swayed by the power of social media, influenced by the books and articles I’ve read, and the jarring of my own emotions which more often than not only make their presence felt with a gentle nudge before self-doubt drowns them out in clamouring chorus. At 39 years old, I cannot be sure of my voice in anything other than the present moment, even if paradoxically it is the only thing of which I can ever be sure.
I’m like the maps in fairy tales with reveal themselves during adventures which means that my opinions on those vast reams of blank uncharted, unknown territory will most probably be ill-thought out, unsupported by research I haven’t had a chance to read yet and sometimes only justified by who shouts louder – my emotions, or my doubt. When you become more visible, as I have become, as I have actively sought to become through my writing, your words seem to carry more weight. They shouldn’t, but they do. And (according to one modern philosopher) with great power comes great responsibility.
But that’s not quite true.
Great power comes, with the internet, sometimes completely unexpectedly. You cannot know power before you have it, so you cannot know whether you are ready for it. If you suddenly find yourself in a position of great power, then you can try to wield that power with responsibility and become the hero, or fail (by accident or design) and become the villain. And so, I am afraid. I am afraid that I have invited the mantle of power on my heretofore unproven and potentially irresponsible shoulders.
It’s not like a haven’t made a ton of mistakes in my life, many of which I’ve hopefully learned from. But I’m going to make more, as sure as eggs are eggs. I cannot elevate my responsibility by an order of magnitude from one day to the next. I must follow my path of learning, of exploring. I am carving my own statue, building my own wall. In order to do that I must lay one responsible brick at a time as carefully as I can. Sometimes those bricks will not be quite straight and they will endanger every brick I lay on top of them. Worse still, I am laying down those bricks in public. If that portion of the wall topples down, it will be seen and amplified.
Which brings me back full circle. As my power grows, I feel ever more hesitant as I speak my truth. I retreat into personal experience (which depends solely on my skewed, confirmation bias riddled memory but at least which can’t be contradicted externally), I carefully consider every word which streams out of my very jumbled consciousness through my electronic quill. Taking a position on a hotly debated issue gives me a quiver of fear before I hit publish. Blogging used to be a way for me to process my issues, but is fast becoming my author platform. So I feel the weight of becoming public property in return for my writing becoming popular and let’s hope, a way to earn my living.
Yet I want my stories out there, whether they tell of abuse, narcissism, non-monogamy, feminism, parenting or pop culture. I believe they will resonate with those who have ears to hear. So I hope I have laid enough bricks straight to build the responsible wall I need to assume the power I have invited. And when I make mistakes in the public eye, I hope I am also strong enough to support myself as I make reparations for them.