It’s been a while, but as you can see, I have been busy preparing a complete make-over of my blog. I am thus super pleased to be able to share this post with you on my brand new website. I hope you like it! 🙂
Okay, if I’m totally honest with you, that’s not the only reason why I haven’t written anything here in a few months. The truth is, I haven’t had much inspiration lately. I just couldn’t seem to be able to simply sit down with myself and put words on the ideas going through my brain. My fellow writers are surely very familiar with this; a typical case of the blank page syndrome.
For starters, I’m not a particular fan of the idea of having to write only for the purpose of ‘creating content’ (which is not great for how the internet works today, I know), but I sometimes have a tendency to go to the other extreme. The main reason for this isn’t that I don’t have anything to say,… I almost always have something to say. I can instead often blame it on procrastination or being too busy with other activities. But this time, I found myself a bit paralysed by all the overwhelming events that have taken place in the world since the beginning of the year, and how what I would have to say on all of it, or on my own little issues, would appear pretty ridiculous or even irrelevant in comparison.
Indeed, I still struggle with that little insecure voice inside of me saying: “Who are you to believe what you have to say matters, and who wants to read your crap anyway?”. And I guess that’s also partly why I’m about to go do a master’s degree in international journalism: not only am I going to have a blast studying something I am passionate about, but I think that ‘officially’ choosing that path will hopefully also give me a certain feeling of legitimacy.
In the meantime, I nevertheless have decided to confront the reasons why I’ve been pushing off this excercise in self-exploration for so long. So make yourselves comfortable, because if you’re still here, it probably means that (for some obscure reason that still amazes me) you enjoy reading about all of my mental peregrinations, and this one is only starting.
“2020. What a year it has been. Okay, yes, I know, we’re not even in October yet. But I still want to reflect on this crazy year. Besides, I’ve been following a student calendar for practically all my life, so autumn remains the beginning of a new year for me, in a way.
Everything looks different. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel nostalgic of the world before. Even so, if I reflect on the past months, I can easily say that they have been truly transformative. In their brutality on a global level, they have at the same time been healing and have brought me a lot of serenity on a personal level.”
It is true that even though there hasn’t been much movement in my life for some time, I feel that this global injunction to slow down has allowed me, in retrospect, to refocus on myself and to take in all the valuable lessons I have learned from my time on the American continent. Today, I realise with gratitude that I am gradually managing to free myself from a number of traumas that have moulded, without my being aware of it, the identity that I have built up over the years. An identity that has also been programmed into me during my childhood and adolescence, and for which I am slowly learning to untie the knots in order to weave new, stronger, healthier ties.
When I compare myself with who I was ten years ago, I barely recognise myself. I used to go through life with an inner voice that scrutinised my every gesture, my words and the features of my physical features in order to belittle them all day long. That voice is still critical at times, but, thanks notably to writing, I learned to make it my ally instead of constantly fighting it as an enemy. And that changes absolutely everything.
This perspective offers me many realisations. Probably one of the most important ones is the fact that I have been walking around this world with open wounds, dripping with sadness and pain for all this time, convinced that I was far too ‘damaged’ to be able to know another way of being. I was in constant struggle with those wounds, not knowing that if I really took the time to look at them, tend to them, they could actually heal one day. I had accepted the fact that I would never be at peace with myself, that this was the way it was, that I had come into this world with a dysfunctional brain, a heart that was too fragile.
This is not to say that I am totally freed from my demons. I may not be ‘broken’, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a natural tendency to feel everything in an exacerbated way, or to have arborescent thoughts that are constantly spinning in my head at breakneck speed, just as we cannot change our genetic predispositions. What has actually changed is the way I look at these aspects of my person. I’m learning to integrate them instead of repressing them, which in turn allows me to know myself better, to understand all those things that have hurt me so much for so long, to be less harsh and demanding of myself.
Certainly, it’s a life’s work. Many things still affect me, and I’m not overflowing with joy all the time. But at least I am no longer overflowing with sorrow every second either. I don’t know if you realise, it’s like taking off a 20 kilo bag that you’ve carried on your back all your life, not knowing that you could walk without it. Everything is so much lighter.
Sure, there are still a few scars. My body, for example, still bears the marks of those years of suffering, and I think it will take a long time for it to recover. I wait, sometimes more patiently than others, while trying to make the process easier. As for the mind, well-being doesn’t manifest itself through fireworks or grandiose gestures that change a destiny, the kind I tend to provoke in my life. No, health is built little by little, at one’s own pace, one lesson after the other, through experiences and crossed limits that force us to put the brakes on our harmful behaviours.
These days, I must say that I have been very tired, slowed down. Admittedly, 2020 has brought its share of upsetting information that I think we are all still digesting a bit.
Yes, a lot has happened since last autumn. I don’t really want to fuel the conversation about the pandemic, everything and its opposite has already been said on the subject. However, I am deeply saddened by the profound changes this virus has imposed on our societies. One might have thought that living through such a collective trauma could have strengthened our bonds, but I am afraid that I am observing a world more divided than ever, where some accuse those who dare to question all the contradictory measures that have been taken to be heartless monsters, and others treat those who only want to do their best as brainless sheep. What they don’t see is that those really responsible for this situation have once again managed to put the blame on people who, on one side or the other, have in the end only very limited understanding and power over the deep stakes involved. A world where we are restricted in our movements, where we are all supposed to live in fear of others isn’t exactly what the utopian in me had imagined for the future.
I must admit that I was also particularly affected by the devastating explosions in Beirut. I thought a lot about my time there, about the lessons of the tormented history of this country and its incredibly resilient people. The Lebanese have already lived through so much, they do not deserve this new injustice that has been added to all the others.
What about everything else, the horrors of systemic racism exposed to the world, political threats between major international actors, the oil spill in Mauritius, the discovery of the extent of the forced labour camps of which the Uyghurs are victims in China, the fire in the Moria camp in Greece, leaving thousands of vulnerable people left to their own devices and imprisoned in an inhumane system, the skies turned red, and so on. Making an exhaustive list would be a long and depressing task.
I won’t lie to you, all of this is a bit hard to swallow. For the moment, the future looks very uncertain; in my opinion, the consequences of all these crises are only beginning to be felt. And the more I think about it, the more I research, the less I can’t help but think that the unhealthy relationship we’ve almost all developed with social media isn’t helping at all, on the contrary. We are so manipulated by the algorithms that we let them dig deeper and deeper into the huge pit that separates people with different opinions. We have become completely intolerant of ideas contrary to our own, so much so that I sometimes feel that we forget our humanity.
If we want to move forward, we cannot continue down this dangerous and divisive slope. Seriously, have you seen the comments on Facebook lately, under the posts dealing with ‘hot’ topics like racism, feminism, ecology, masks and so on? Everybody is spitting out their poison, forgetting that there are real human beings on the other side of our screens. How the hell are we supposed to solve all the problems we face if we can’t even show a modicum of respect or have a conversation without calling each other names, if we can’t overcome this mentality of hating anyone who doesn’t think the same way we do?
In all this, I preferred to isolate myself a little. I didn’t really want to participate publicly in the conversations, because I don’t want to fuel all this gratuitous violence. I created my little protective bubble, I’m working on myself. I even went on a hike alone for a few days.
“Yet, we have to face it sooner or later. I think that since the world changed, I’ve been escaping a bit. I haven’t written much, for example, and I know that when I don’t, it’s because I’m not completely connected to myself.
You see, I apprehend life in a way as a big puzzle. I collect the pieces through my interactions with the world, allowing an image to reveal itself little by little which keeps growing and taking on new forms. In order to do this, I have to face myself on a regular basis and reassemble the pieces. This is part of the process. In my case, the pieces are words that I link together with the tip of my pen. I sometimes feel that it’s not quite me who’s writing, when sentences spurt out without me having any apparent control over them. This part of me is boiling, and I have to admit that I am still afraid of it.
Another part of me decides to publish these words, to share them with you. Right now, they belong only to me. But by the time you read this, they won’t quite belong to me anymore. Yes, you’re here. Even if you aren’t really, the perspective of you reading me influences my choice of words. It also influences how often I write, and the expectations I place on this form of expression that is so fundamental to my well-being.
But I don’t want to mix the intimacy of my words with the fakeness of social media. I don’t want to have to bullshit you by posing in a bikini in front of a #perfectsunset to sell you cosmetics or my latest ebook entitled “How to reach a million followers”, because I think there are much more important messages to convey in today’s world. What I have here, between me and me, this look inside that allows me to connect the dots, to assemble the parts, I don’t want to sacrifice it to the machines that manipulate us all day long. It’s too precious. Together, we manage to make sense of all the horrors and all the wonders. We put the pieces of the puzzle next to each other and tell a story.”
In a world where everything that is shared online is first selected to capture the attention of algorithms and our minds in constant search for the next distraction, I always feel like I’m swimming against the current. I thus try to play the game a little, I’m slowly getting up to date (as you can see with this brand new website) while refusing to sacrifice the authenticity of my writings in order to get more likes.
Maybe that’s why sometimes I don’t publish anything for months at a time, or why I procrastinate on the projects I care so much about. I don’t want to play the game of having to constantly produce compelling content, at the risk of losing my place in Google’s rankings. I don’t throw stones at those who do, I know that we all have to pay our bills. But what I do is too personal to risk distorting it.
I thus choose to follow a new path, less intimate, more universal, which I hope will allow me to continue to explore the many worlds out there, to tell the stories that matter. Maybe after all, 2020 will be for me the start of the realisation of an unexploited potential.
“I guess that’s why I’m going to Cardiff to pursue a master’s degree in international journalism – so that I can continue to tell stories, our stories, the stories of the world. The one that is being written today with the shadow of a pandemic hovering over us all.
2020. We’ll remember this one.”