“Two roads diverged in a wood and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost

Dear Fellow Warrior,

The past year it has been hard to do anything that I used to love doing on my free time.

Painting, blogging and writing had been harder. I am not sure if it is because my health was deteriorating or because the societal circumstances made it more difficult, alongside my personal experiences.

It’s interesting as I have been reflecting on a lot of my choices over the years. My choices in my career and studies, my choice to take put on and take off my head cover, my choice to befriend or cut ties with certain people. My choice start this blog. My choice to do a PhD. My choice to study my parent’s country. And even my choice to be an open book, and be open and honest in online public forums about my own story with mental health.

I thought that speaking openly about it would help open up the conversation in my networks, would contribute to defeating stigmas in the community, and would contribute in creating a space for authenticity and belonging in my own way, and in my own space. I knew it was risky. And the issue was too big.

There is an unspoken stigma, I have felt among the people in my networks, for being an open book about my challenges. Some of it was perceived stigma, but some of it was real too. I thought we were moving ahead in the dialogue post-pandemic, but we have moved completely backward. And I feel it now.

Society is still very stigmatized and I felt it at a systematic level this year. It seems that the consensus was that since so many struggle, it’s normal so we don’t have to talk about it. I argued for the opposite, on the importance of these conversations, well before it was “popular” or “trending.”

And over time, it has been quite a revelation about how little my voice may have mattered to people within my networks, and arguably based on all my identity intersections, all of my identifying factors combined.

I don’t believe I am making assumptions, based on what I have experienced. What can sting is how little people who care about those same issues, care about your voice on those very issues that matter most to you, in which you have much to contribute. This is what I implied when I wrote this piece a few months ago:

I also find it interesting to learn how people resent you for your tenacity, perseverance, resilience, bravery and courage in addressing tough social issues, instead of seeing it as a real inspiration for their life, and hence, may refuse to support you.

All in all, I do think this is a product of the impact of the Pandemic and quarantine life on our psyches, both in our perceptions of self, and our connections and relationships with others.

With all this, it does not escape me about what happens to us when we make the choice to pay attention to these things. Sometimes, no matter how much you try, you will still focus on the negative over the positive, and for many of us, it is NOT our fault.

That Choice…that Choice on what you pay attention to, and what you focus on, may ultimately be the determining factor for your success and failure.

If you learn this the hard way, like I have, it is not too late for you, but it will be hard to change habitualized cognitive patterns, and we have to be prepared for that.

I was learning from “the gurus” or the “experts” that you tend to become what you focus on, what you are paying attention to.

My attention the past two years was in part connected to a trauma-response to trauma, and what injustices I was experiencing, and the healing and recovery that was a part of it. Some people might think it is an excuse. Then you won’t understand. I needed support. I needed healthcare. I needed to process the trauma and I still have not been able to find it. But I had been fighting and continue to keep fighting. That is why I am still writing to you.

Understanding and reflecting on consequences for the Choice you make and what you focus on, can be brutal and painful, but it can help you process the lost time and move forward.

Moving forward is a process. It takes time.

The brutal reality that I must cope with is that It took my concentration on the scholarship away. It took me to a different direction, and I lost grip of all that I was working towards in my academic and professional life.

In this piece on Medium, I talk a little bit about what choice contributed to further making that difficult.

I also note it in my last blog post here:

While you take some accountability, you also see the failure in the systemic forces as well, and how the world works against certain people and identities.

I also found that my choice of doing so many things at once may slow me down from getting to where I want to be as well. But I look at it as planting the seeds for my life. I understand, however, that I need to focus on one thing at a time in order to make significant progress, with some minimal multi-tasking.

Why do I do everything? Why do I have so many projects going at once? Because everything I do is interconnected to my being, is interconnected to everything I stand for. It goes back to the very theme that this blog started on, “intersectionality.”

One thing I know for sure, I can’t let go of writing to you, dear Warrior, albeit writings on mental health, social Justice, or anything. I can’t. I hope that you are here with me, and I hope you know that you are welcome. This is one choice I won’t regret, even if I don’t hear from you. But I hope I do.

In Solidarity, Peace, Warmth, and Blessings,

Your sister,

Dr. Elsa

Warrior KQueen

“She Wasn’t Looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus


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