Not the End

I started this post with the intention of it being my last. I felt the blog’s lifespan was drawing to a close because I needed to get bigger and, at this point, the world knows a lot about me and I want to know more about the world. Not necessarily its facts or sights, but the essence, in the way that truly knowing someone is a deep, un-nameable sensation, characterized by small discoveries and shared, hidden giggles different from recognizing their face or growing up in parallel. I want to realize and manifest the joy or even absence of pain I can bring others by being present and soft and pushing the boundaries of my compassion. And though this blog was always intended as a connector and a means of breaking barriers, it began to feel like another self-indulgence.

Because after the unbelievable fortune of having been able to catapult myself across the globe during the past year and a half, it seems natural and expected that I would have gained perspective. That I would have developed my sense of self and what’s important, have experienced new challenges and surmounted old ones and deepened interpersonal connections and continued to expand and think new thoughts. All of which has happened.

But sometimes I feel unsatisfactory. That I turn around to find exactly the person I left, still quivering in existential questioning and unable to relax into the ebb as the waves inevitably roll, caught in a bouncing bubble with walls that thicken and constrain the longer I remain inside. So I convinced myself I have nothing more to say. That continuing these posts is really just an exercise in extending my stubborn stuckness, allowing myself to expound more and listen less. And I convinced myself that others, too, expect a more worldly and broadened Barae, open and humbled after the blessing and privilege of travel and the soul-searching by which it is accompanied.

And I do need to get bigger. Service and justice work are potent antidotes to internal struggle, empowering and healing and providing a tangible, grab-able rope to reality and community. Listening and adapting rather than declaring and demanding allows compassion and perspective that can help wrench me out of my cocoon. But I missed the blog, its fluidity and inspiration and catharsis. I missed the community of it. Of course, that community is extremely limited and Barae-centered, with me at the helm and the prow and therefore really more of an audience. But this tool for sharing feels more important and valuable now than ever.

As part of our human affection we struggle. We all wage internal wars and navigate stagnancy and disorientation and anger, and even though we know it’s harder alone we are taught it must be stifled, trapped, and hidden. In exploring vulnerability and euphoria and insecurity and realizations in a public space, without shame or stigma or judgment, I can at least open my own borders. I can establish that these are universal experiences and truly not wrong, not broken or disgusting or shameful. That by acknowledging and revealing and discussing we can wear away at the isolating barriers and dismantle the notions that tell us we must wrap ourselves tight until we are choked and already burst.

I am proud of but mostly grateful for this blog. I’m grateful for reception and encouragement and feedback and the opportunity to release, and honored to hold the trust of reciprocal listening and sharing. In the high-stress, no-pause whirlwind that is college I don’t foresee frequent blogging, but I’m allowing this creation to hover, leaving room for new growth and new directions and hopefully to emerge as a positive ingredient in supportive communities. If you feel comfortable and the desire ever strikes, please know that I am available, eager and open for questions and connections. Thank you for journeying with me.

 

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Stronger Than a Spider Web (and I’ve Heard They’re Pretty Strong)

There’s certainly something to be said for privacy. I don’t want to preach boundless disclosure and ignore the merits of selective sharing and protecting oneself and others, if that’s what you’re into. But there’s something about extending a thought, an experience, a conviction, that invokes a sigh of relief. Not only is it comforting to engender an idea into collective and undeniable reality, it is curiously empowering.

The Internet is wonderful this way. I am not engaging in the tired debate that people over 40 seem obliged to contribute to (without actual desire, I’m pretty sure) over the dis/advantages of technology; I’m simply feeling lucky to exist in a time of such deep and accessible connection. The shield of a mesmerizing screen emboldens us, softens us, challenges us, reassures us, teaches us, captures us… it’s pretty cool that we can let the whole world into our rooms in an instant, unless you have slow WiFi, in which case the frustration is sometimes unbearable and soooo not worth it.

Thank you, Internet, for an endless supply of people with much greater senses of humor than my own

Thank you, Internet, for an endless supply of people with much greater senses of humor than my own

Willingly divulging intimate experiences and struggles (actually, promoting them… oh geez) on a globally accessible (and decidedly permanent) platform doesn’t even feel weird to me. Exposing my vulnerability and exploring the extents of my own story via writing releases a burden. Sharing makes it real; it’s solid and raw and secures a cord between myself and the larger whole. Like, here guys, here’s my contribution. I’m weaving myself in and even if I’m alone here’s proof that I’m still here, that I still care and trust and want to keep on building.

And that’s why I love my generation, even if we’re selfish and lazy and entitled and living in a virtual reality. Because we’re building a community.

When I say my generation, I don’t actually mean all the other humans born within ten years of myself. I mean anyone who’s willing to jump in, compassionately and passionately and openly. I’m not into exclusion, and we could all use some empowerment. When I read a genuine and astute article/blog/post/etc. online, (which I’ve encountered quite a few of lately, but the Internet’s kinda gigantic so there’s literally an infinite amount, yay Internet!) I undergo a distinct and tangible upwelling of pride and zeal and inspiration and belongingness that emerges in my belly, swirls around for a bit, then shoots up my intestines into my chest (that’s how anatomy works, right?) and spreads tingly fire out my extremities. I see flashing neon signs saying “THESE PEOPLE THINK LIKE YOU” and “THERE’S SO MUCH HOPE AND SO MUCH YOU CAN DO” and “HUMANITY IS MAGNIFICENT” and “FUCK YEAH YOU ARE A GODDESS” and the like. (Way better than “vacancy” with one letter out… any motels hiring?)

In an era of vehement social movements, instant connection of thoughtful people with something to say or questions to ask is an invaluable tool. Whether it’s a forceful reality check to remind us that shaming others is never an effective means of empowerment or an honest exploration of a personal sojourn with universal implications, I can’t help but preen my feathers like a proud, sub-five-foot human Mama Bird because I am part of it. I get to be inspired by this tremendous and spectacularly authentic web that is so, so much greater than the sum of its parts, because each thread is an uncensored outpouring careening down the mountainside.

I don’t care if it’s a journalist for Time who gets published every other week or a lonely teenager who’s never passed an English class. I’ve gotten teary-eyed from a painfully mainstream YouTube ad and frequently get fired up about questionably politically correct articles on websites like Everyday Feminism. I find words for conditions that have been tugging at the edge of my consciousness without ever quite realizing their validation, like how eating disorder recovery often perpetuates fatphobia. I don’t even mind if I’m part of a seriously trendy fad of obsessive Humans of New York scrollers, because it’s fucking awesome to see the absolute humanity in people you’ve never met but find solace in knowing they exist.

What I’m trying to say is this togetherness, this connection and simultaneous existence, this unabashed exposure to anyone who cares to waste some time on a screen is collective compassionate empowerment if I’ve ever seen it. (But only after I say that ten times fast). My citizenship in this community is an underrated and continuous gift that I can’t ever lose.

The best part? You’re a member too.