I’ve briefly discussed my academic life on the blog in the past, but while studying for my exams I came up with a great idea for a new “series” of posts. I’m really not sure how long this series will last or how many posts will come from it… we’ll see how it goes.
“It came to right then that there are some folks for whom openness is not about the luxury of ‘will I choose to share this or tell that,’ but rather, ‘will I survive–will I make it through–will I stay alive.’ And openness is about how to be well and telling the truth is about how to put the broken bits and pieces of the heart back together again. It is about being whole–being wholehearted.” (bell hooks, Talking Back, p.2)
When I first started this blog in 2012, I didn’t really know much about “public” blogging or creating a brand. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and let one of my friends convince me to give it a go. At the time, I was unsure about using my real name or my family’s names because I didn’t know where this would go. I didn’t want to set myself up for issues in the classroom if a student googled my name or potential job situations. I knew I wasn’t planning on applying for a tenure track position right away, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do post graduation. While I’ve blogged in the past on smaller platforms, I never felt like it was something that would be discovered by the masses. All of this led me to using a pen name for the first year or so. I recently decided to ditch the pen name because I want to be more open and for me my name is a large part of my identity. I’ve never been big on nicknames, so going by a name that wasn’t even close to the name my mother gave me seemed forced.
One of the first books I read during my exam study period was Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black by bell hooks. In the introductory portion of the text, hooks talks about her decision to use a pen name when writing and why she hadn’t shared more of herself prior to this text.
“It has taken longer for me to be publicly private in writing because there was lurking in me the fear of punishment–the fear of saying something about loved ones that they would feel should not be said. The fear that the punishment will be loss, that I will be cut from meaningful contacts. This is truly, on a deep level, a real race and class issue’ cause so many black folks have been raised to believe that there is just so much that you should not talk about, not in private and not in public.” (hooks 4)
In real life, I am pretty much an open book. I share things with my friends/associates/classmates/students that most people tell you to keep to yourself. I can remember sharing a very private family secret with my second grade teacher and when my grandmother found out being told that I shouldn’t have told her. My response as it was often during my childhood was “But, it’s the truth…” Over the years, I was taught that there are some “truths” that should be kept private. Or as my mom would say “what happens in this house, stays in this house.” I eventually learned to keep my mouth closed for fear of the punishment that would take place, but then I went away to school. I was still silent for awhile about my truths, but slowly I began to open up again. And then I moved to Atlanta… far away from my family and I met my now husband. He never pried, but he did push me to open up. If not to him, then to someone. I remember slowly starting to feel free and able to share. A few years into my stay here I started going to therapy on campus and ended up in an amazing therapy group. That group became my safe haven and I was finally able to share without fear of punishment or shame.
Yet, when I started this blog I went right back to how I had behaved before I moved to Atlanta. I started writing about the safe topics in my new role of motherhood… or at least the topics of what felt safe to me. There were some things I wanted to share that I decided to keep to myself because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. There are often moments when I want to vent here and share things I’m going through, but I refrain because in the back of my mind I can hear my mom’s words. There are just things I want my readers to know about me that I haven’t written down out of fear.
Every time I read through bell hooks text, I ask myself when are you going to share your truth? If I truly subscribe to a feminist model of thinking, how can I continue to only share the “safe” things? So, as of Monday, June 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm, I vow to share more of me here. There will still be informative and adorably cute posts about my life, but there will be posts about Danielle. The real me and not just the happy, smiling mommy that everyone knows now.
This post definitely took a turn I wasn’t expecting when I first started writing, but one that I am happy about now that I see it in print. I guess this series will be two-fold–how academia changes/challenges my marriage and motherhood, and who I am overall.