Sometimes the magnitude of my lack of knowledge leaves me wordless.
I wonder how it is to be so sure you have all the answers that you’re willing to write about basically any topic with little to no knowledge — confidently. How it is to write about, say, the experience of people of color when you’re white, or queer people when you’re straight, or cultural appropriation when you don’t even know what the fuck it means, and demand that people respect your opinion. It couldn’t be me.
So many awful things are going on in the world right now, and I want to weigh in, but I bite my tongue. I’m tired of writing gingerly, unsure. I tell myself, maybe I should wait until I’m done with school. Or maybe I should wait until I’ve done a ton of research on whatever underlying structural issues are enabling ____. I feel the expectation of expertise weighing on my shoulders, the demand for confident, final language that reflects an illusory ultimate knowledge. I have no idea, about so much. I know this, viscerally, and it hangs like a spectre over my head whenever I sit down to write. I balk at the idea of contributing my own to the masses of garbage opinions on the Internet. What if I’m wrong? Worse, what if I’m loud and wrong?
I used to give myself permission to only be an expert in my own experience, to write self-indulgently in a way that doesn’t necessarily have to resonate with anyone else. Now I keep trying to find ways to expand whatever ruminations I have into some far-reaching critique of systems of oppression or pop culture or something. I just redid this blog to allow myself the freedom to write about anything, but here I go boxing myself in again. Myself. I have to be real about who’s zooming who here. And yeah, there’s probably some kind of social pressure at play too, something about how marginalized peoples have to be twice as good to get half as much, but who’s counting?
At what point do I stop second-guessing and start just writing?
The thing is, I recognize the harm it can to others when writers just write without considering who their words might hurt. When writers co-opt experiences and lives to get clicks, further their career, and bolster their brand. I don’t want to participate in that. I don’t want to just carelessly run my mouth, get the publicity and deal with the angry mobs later. Getting paid & getting famous isn’t worth running roughshod over other people. But I struggle to find a happy medium between recognizing that and still expressing my ideas about why things are the way they are. I know a degree doesn’t actually mean shit, that lived experience is equally if not more valuable, & that society overhypes the necessity/utility of traditional education. Still, in these restless & ever-changing times, I’m so uncertain of what I actually know for sure that it’s easier just to stay silent. Easier, but maybe not best.
Fuck it, I’m posting this as it is. In all its waffling, ambivalent glory.