I’ve been on a journey of accepting my short-comings, especially regarding what I don’t know, and it’s making me more brave. I was under the impression that if I didn’t grasp all the nuances of a topic, if I didn’t express every possible argument and rebuttal to display that yes—I had considered all sides of the story—then I had no right to speak. And while it’s important to be critical and well-informed, which I will always strive to be, I am learning that my standards are both unrealistic and harmful, specifically for spaces like a personal blog where, I think, it’s well-established that these are my opinions.
Alexandra Gillespie, the principal of the University of Toronto Mississauga, once told me in an interview, “I don’t believe that some forms of knowledge are better or more important than others, [but] I do think that some might be more useful in different circumstances.” Gillespie’s humble disposition, to perceive that she doesn’t hold the highest form of knowledge and only hopes to make the best decision for the people impacted by her decisions, inspires me to think less about myself and more about what I could add to this world. She also encourages me to reconsider the notions I hold and their helpfulness. I think it’s unhelpful to believe that one can only write if one is all-knowing, because obviously no one is. It makes it impossible to be a writer (and a human), if I don’t give myself space to make mistakes and learn. And it’s important to differentiate spaces for different types of writing, for example, a news room, compared to a literary journal, compared to a blog.
The new idea I’ve accepted is: I don’t have all the answers, and that is okay. I can still give myself permission to write, to speak, to express—because these are my experiences and limitations are an essence of my humanity, but there is still beauty in the attempt.
Fear of judgement, shame for my lack of full understanding, and constant criticism kept me from writing. But accepting my limitations frees me to write, to explore, and to make mistakes and grow. I have courage because I know that no matter what happens, I’ll commit to doing better if I get it wrong. Like Maya Angelou said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
I wonder if my fear was a result of “cancel culture,” an anxious upbringing, compounded by my enneagram 9 personality. I won’t go into it now, though. The big question is: what will become of this blog? To be honest, I don’t know. I’m anticipating some book reviews because some of my friends recently published their first books (woohoo!), and I suppose articles about whatever else I’m up to—which nowadays isn’t much. But I think there’s a lot of beauty in the mundane. (I’m paying over 200$ a year to have this website running so I might as well make use of it).
It’s really nice to just write. I’ve decided that my blog will be a place where I give myself freedom to write about whatever the heck I want, without much worry about every punctuation and possibility. A place for the rants, for the logic-less-ness, for the journal entries, for a record of my learnings.
I’ve also been seeking new ways of connecting, and although I love Instagram, it’s too fast-paced for me. This blog will be a place where I resist. I may include photos from my week in these posts so that I’m more intentional about what I post and spend less time on my phone. Hope that’s good with you.
What are you working on? I hope that whatever it is, you are giving yourself room to grow. Remember that if you ever fall-short of your expectations, it doesn’t mean you’re any less worthy of putting yourself out there. Promise me that you’ll invest in your dreams. And if you ever wanna chat—leave a comment, shoot me a message, give me a call. I’d love to hear what you’re up to.
Photos From Today
I've been living in a "the grass is greener on the other side" mentality for way too long.
Elisa is a Vietnamese-Canadian writer and editor. Her work focuses on familial love, self-discovery, and immigrant experiences.