I’m Real

The other day one of my best friends found out that if you google my full name and the word “blog,” this blog shows up as the first search result. When she messaged me this, I freaked out a little bit. Though I feel confident and secure in myself and in what I share on this blog, I still got shaken up by the notion of someone within my “professional” circle stumbling upon these posts especially my posts that involve strikethroughs and mentions of railings, anyway.

When I sat down and started to process my slight fear, I recognized that I felt concerned about people judging my competencies as an academic based on this blog. I want to challenge that fear because this blog increases the quality of my work in at least a couple of ways. First, I use it as a hobby and as an artistic outlet so I do not focus too much on my academic work, which makes my relationship with work more healthful. Second, I often blog about mental health and processing internal and interpersonal issues, which increases my self-awareness and sensitivity, which benefits how I interact with students and mentees. Despite these benefits, I still feel the stigma about mental illness that pervades academia and perhaps the working world broadly, even the field of Psychology.

I also sit with how as a queer person of color, I face higher expectations when it comes to the research I produce. One of my research advisors and I talked about how oftentimes, scholarship by people of color receives increased scrutiny and criticism, especially if it challenges dominant power structures like white supremacy, amatonormativity, patriarchy, etc. While I will intentionally not go into detail about it in this post, I have already experienced racist bias against some of my research publications and grant submissions. I suppose a part of me wonders if this blog may serve as further ammunition for haters to use against me at some point too.

Okay feast your eyes upon these compassionate and wise texts from one of my best friends, which features a critique of professionalism and how we potentially sacrifice core elements of ourselves to maintain it. One of the reasons I pretty much don’t care about what people think of me is because I already have the support of my amazing friends.

While on my daily jog yesterday, I reflected on this blog and my values while listening to “Stereotype” by STAYC. I thought about how awhile ago, I talked with my current therapist about what would happen if one of my clients found this blog, and she said they would see how I incorporate what I say in the therapy room into my own life. This insight resonates with me because one key purpose of this blog includes to destigmatize mental illness, specifically PTSD and disordered eating. I want to show people, including myself, that you can live a joyful and authentic life no matter what you have experienced in your past.

I want to carve out my own voice as a queer femme Asian American, too. I have seen so many stereotypes of people with my identities – that we prefer to stay submissive, that we want to date white people and chase after their approval, that we only care about upward class mobility and educational achievement. Through my writing on this blog, I want to show how I challenge those stereotypes and expectations in my daily life. Just like how feminist writers Caroline Knapp, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks guided my own process of self-empowerment, I hope my writing can help others challenge the status quo too.

At the end of the day, I am a real person with dreams and desires, who experiences moments of distress and delight and feelings in between. My humanity does not detract from my skill as a researcher, clinician, or teacher. Regardless, I think many of us could benefit from self-aware, intentional vulnerability, to reach beyond the images of perfection so often falsely projected to us.

Yay at this validating set of messages from my other best friend! I appreciate her take about the blog as a tiny form of resistance against the toxicity lurking within academia, in which people act as if they cannot or should not have full, nuanced lives outside of their work.

How do you feel about this post especially as a reader of this blog, or at least this post? How do you manage vulnerability either online or in general (I’m assuming most folks reading this are not as vulnerable as I am lol)? How do we create a more healthfully vulnerable society, not like everyone sharing everything necessarily because that could also be problematic but so marginalized folks with stigmatized identities feel empowered? Thanks for reading and until next post!

5 Comments

Filed under Personal, Society

5 responses to “I’m Real

  1. Hm, this is interesting. I think what your friends say is true. But I also know that I hide stuff from my blog, even to the extent of not reviewing the odd book about toxic families, because I know my birth family stalk and check on me, and also my nice side of my family I’m in touch with who are also in touch with the toxic side see stuff. So my commenting on here is probably the most honest and vulnerable I am in public, funnily enough (thank you for as a side-line providing this space for me to do that!). I’ve done a search and didn’t find my commenting on here coming up. But having said that I admire your bravery and also you’re a real role model for others which is terribly important. I would say my main therapist I’ve had has had a locked-down public identity, but then she’s older (than me, even) and it’s different for the born-digital generation like you, I think. So I’m saying keep on doing you, wherever you feel the need to, even though I can’t do that (because I can’t do that?).

    • Thanks so much for this compassionate comment Liz! Yeah, my view on the idea of sharing is that no one should feel pressured to share about their lives *and* people should not be stigmatized if they decide to share (in particular if they share in a way that isn’t causing harm to other people). Yeah, I highly doubt anything a commenter shares would come up in a search, and my bff only found my blog through literally searching my name and the word “blog,” so someone would have to be on the hunt for me already to purposefully come across this website. Appreciate your kind words about me being a role model, our e-friendship has been instrumental in my confidence and writing on here! The note about generational differences is interesting too, as yep I did grow up with the internet. Hope you are well. (:

  2. Kartavya Ratate

    I appreciate you being honest about your feelings about being vulnerable on this blog. I can see it’s been a little unsettling for you to think of the expectations that generally come while working within academic/ professional systems, and that you fear compromising on your values. Your feelings are valid, and you staying true to your values reflects your strength, which I hope you recognise. You have my support, and I am extending my warmth and compassion to you.

    As for the expectations you write about here, I feel like it is very misguiding and unrealistic to expect people to dismiss non-professional aspects of their lives and always only seek out things, even in their personal spaces, that will eventually benefit them as academics or professionals. This is a very consumerist sentiment and it is very limiting in how it restricts people from seeking overall growth and appreciating things that give meaning to their humanity. I am so glad you are fighting against these unhealthy notions, and are protecting yourself. As a reader of this blog, I have always felt touched by your genuine voice, which has often inspired me to reach out to others with honesty and care, and I just want you to know how grateful I am for the many ways in which this blog has helped me. Which wouldn’t have been possible if you weren’t so real here:)

    I hope you are taking care of yourself and are practising self-compassion, while processing these emotions.

    • Awwwwww omg this comment is so compassionate and empathetic, I appreciate it so much! While I am vibing with everything in this comment, I in particular love how you call out the consumerist notion that we should tailor everything in our lives, professional and personal, to maximize success within the professional realm. When you phrase it like that it does remind me of how dehumanizing denying our true selves can be just to present a passing image to people who have evaluative power over us. Thanks for your thoughtfulness so much and hope you are doing well!

  3. Blogs are like journals. You give a part of yourself with every word written. Thank you for being authentic.

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