Message to My Networks…

I shared this message with my facebook network today, and I wanted to share it here as well. After nearly a year and a half of building my blog (off and on), I finally had the courage to share it openly with my networks. 

“If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.” Cynthia Ozick

“Hi everyone, I want to share something with you. Something that has required a lot of reflection, and a lot of strength from deep within me. This probably is not normal, but for me, that was the case, lol. Please be warned, this will be a very long post, so I hope you will take a moment of your time and just stick with me ‘til the bitter end of it, if possible, or at least skim through parts…
 
One of the biggest lessons I learned in writing my dissertation proposal, and at various stages of the PhD so far, is that perfectionism is just not worth the time and energy, and nothing will ever be perfect. In a sense, perfectionism is itself a suicide mission, and unfortunately, in reality, when unchecked, it can really destroy you in many ways. And, if we wait to become “the next Hemingway” we will most likely fall to our demise. 😉
 
I think, just like many aspiring writers, I have been waiting for “that right moment” for some time, and for many things. And for too long. Whether it be about being able to develop the right skills, or getting to that “exact right point” in my life, where I am strong and confident and thick-skinned enough to take the public criticism, not realizing that if I keep seeking for something perfect, it is just not going to happen, and it will lead to more heartache and disappointment….and to the more scary and painful ruminations of the “what if…”
 
Well, so here it goes. I want to take a moment to share with you my personal blog, titled: “Elsa: The Warrior KQueen.” In a nutshell, this is sort of the space where I intend to hone my craft in creative writing and all relevant projects… Please read on if interested, feel free to skim through if it is too long ….
 
Few of you may recall that I had started a blog early last year. I had been taking some online blogging courses as well and building this a little bit now for more than a year, off and on, and I am more and more excited about blogging and how fun it can be, not only the freelance writing, but also the technical aspects of creating a website. I am finding it’s really enjoyable, and enriching and I wish I explored this earlier, when I first started one back in 2007 or 2008. I began this in February last year (2016) and have delayed sharing this, due to the typical fears and the lack of courage I have had all these years,…fears I guess associated with “exposing” one’s greatest vulnerabilities, some of which I already do as random posts on facebook, but not as more polished blog articles. I never thought of myself as a “great” writer, and am certainly not up to the par I should be at this point in life, but it was a passion I developed from early childhood, and it remains part of my calling, or perhaps that is what I still believe at the moment.
 
This blog definitely needs a lot of work, I plan to make the appropriate edits, change the website theme, and add more graphics, etc….But it will never reach my standards, and recently I read from the writer Jeff Goins, in his book, “Real Artists Don’t Starve,” the best way to thrive in creativity, is to practice in public. And I really believe in that.
 
For that reason, I see this as a creative outlet for self-apprenticeship, as well as a space to grow in speaking in my true authentic voice that is often hard to do in other spheres of life and work and even in social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin.
 
I know perhaps my blog title and content, to some more established people in the blogging and writing world, sounds quite silly and corny and perhaps cliché and in some lenses a bit narcissistic (although that is the opposite of its premise and intention), but I hope you will take the time to read the featured article (http://www.warrioretkqueen.com/meet-elsa-the-warrior-kqueen/ ), which was my first blog post in February 2016, to understand ultimately why I chose that title/brand for my personal blog and the primary objectives for this blog as both a personal and service-oriented space. After much contemplation and reflection, I do feel it is quite fitting for the personal nature of the blog, as well as the themes I have chosen to write about.
 
Many of you know that one of the causes I care most about is Mental Health Awareness and I make it no secret as to my own struggle, (for a good reason), to help contribute in normalizing the dialogue and defeating the stigma that contributes to the dangerous isolation and marginalization (which I have experienced myself many times the past decade or so) of those suffering from such diseases like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses; and to promote it, at least within my own networks.
 
I want to make it known in my professional and personal networks to the least (if I am unable to grow an audience), however uncomfortable this conversation is, that this is in fact a very important conversation, and we need to take some time to embrace it. It is more dangerous to not talk about mental health and illness, and only discuss it when it is relevant and/or when there is a hashtag (i.e. when some iconic or talented celebrity takes their own life – i.e. Robin Williams or more recently Chester Bennington). It is worth risking a little discomfort, it is worth climbing out of our little bubbles and comfort zones, to see a reality that millions of people around the world share.
 
The secondary theme of this blog is in line with the notion of “intersectionality” and more specifically “intersectional feminism” which I plan to make more prominent in some of my writings on there as well and which also prompted the use of my own name in the title, and with some consideration of the Disney character, who has become quite the “cultural icon”. I have just finished writing a little playful but also serious piece about how that has impacted my life in general, which highlights some interesting notions of race and intersectionality from my own experience (http://www.warrioretkqueen.com/how-your-life-changes-when-a-disney-queen-takes-your-name-and-becomes-a-cultural-icon/ ). The article points to that reasoning, and you will notice there is also a brief explanation in my featured blog piece.
 
I hope you would support me in occasionally visiting my blog, and reading it, and offering some thoughts of your own. I especially would really appreciate those who do care about me and my health (close friends and family especially), to please subscribe and read my posts from time to time. I will be writing weekly or bi-weekly posts to start out, sometimes more often than that, given there are several articles in my “content creation folder,” but you can certainly just visit the site if you don’t want to subscribe. I encourage this because, I think it is important for anyone to read and try to dissect the writings or artwork of those suffering with mental illnesses, so as to help cultivate some understanding and perhaps create more beautiful lasting connections among your loved ones. Additionally, I often expanded on some comments I would post on facebook onto my blog the past year, into longer articles, so from now on, I may simply just post some of those articles on facebook from this blog as well.
 
The blog also has a space for sharing some of my creative ad hoc projects, that I have been working on, and I hope to use this space to continue building them, including some of my paintings, poetry, and future short stories, books and novels. It has a page (currently still being updated and on a periodic basis) dedicated to my “mental health repository” for the different resources that have helped me cope with my health as I strive to make contributions, since I have used “education” as the primary tool to support me through my struggles. Because of that, the concept of “educating” oneself about mental health and mental health awareness, self-help, whatever you want to call it, is something that I have embraced and been passionate about, and will continue to embrace going forward. The PhD pursuit is perhaps ironically, despite being an incredibly painstaking, and daunting feat, has helped and perhaps saved me in many ways, which I hope to explain and share in greater detail in the future (perhaps when I have actually achieved the degree – crossing my fingers!). So I’d like to see how my academic pursuits complement these creative pursuits, as I will explore in more detail, while building this blog.
 
Lastly there is a space that the reader can share their story. My style of leadership, is seeing leaders in others, and helping them grow as leaders, and I haven’t had much opportunity to practice this style in a larger capacity, but intend to, going forward, in whatever avenue I am able. As I share my story, I hope it encourages others to share theirs as well and simply contribute to the critical network effect of not only building a community and army of Warrior Kings and Queens around these pertinent issues, but also diminishing the fears surrounding the need to hide our truths in the midst of the atmosphere of our daily lives that works against people who suffer with mental illness, rather than in support of them.
 
In my case and my example, it is a very difficult surrounding that includes layers and layers of politics and bureaucracy that may serve to disadvantage those open about their mental illnesses (and I want to contribute to changing that)…this is the world of Academia and the Washington, DC community (ironically where depression and anxiety is actually more rampant than people are willing to admit); not to mention the embedded South Asian and Muslim communities’ cultural stigmas against mental illness. Although, my hope is to reach beyond that, as mental health does not discriminate (which makes it such a fascinating topic), being that I am and will continue to be situated in this world of my socially constructed identity, I will need to remain strong and grounded in my principals to elevate my voice against the stigmas of mental illness in this environment, helping to break barriers and create and foster bridges.
 
The truth is that we are imperfect… I am imperfect, and as much as we try to remain a consistent positive voice in our own lives and others, I have accepted that will not always be the case. There will always be relapses, and that is okay. As long as we are able to get “out of the darkness” somehow, just for a little while, enough to stay afloat, that can help with progress and the necessary change within, and ultimately the change in our communities.
 
I have been learning the past year that having a blog gives a type of freedom in writing that is difficult to obtain simply by posting something on your social network wall or twitter feeds. Although blogging is an older phenomenon, it remains relevant and highly active opportunity. I will advocate and encourage this as a medium for others as well and as I learn, I hope to help others build their work as well. My blog is an open space where I can explore myself and discover my true identity without feeling some sort of barrier stopping me from going deeper and deeper and I have yet to do this even further. It is truly a quest to be honest, authentic, and free enough, and I feel writing itself is a blessing to mankind, which is why I love it so much.
 
Although I am sharing this with my professional and personal networks, the space itself makes all the difference in feeling that critical sense of freedom, yet knowing that it is out there for anyone to read… perhaps someone who needs help, someone who can simply relate, or someone who could in turn offer some insight and assistance.
 
All I ask of the reader is an open mind. However, I am most appreciative of different perspectives and constructive criticism in this “evolutionary” process as well.
 
Thanks for your time on visiting my blog and again, I am happy to receive any constructive feedback and please feel welcome to share with your colleagues or friends, with the caveat that it is a personal blog and that I am a dilettante in writing; but if it is helpful in any way, I would be truly humbled. Ultimately, I do hope people can see the value behind the story and the service nature of it, that goes beyond the personal voice as well.
 
“Success” from my blogging would mean simply this: if I am able to help some people, from sharing my own story, and by offering tips for people who struggle and for families and other loved ones who know someone who struggles with mental illness, I will be satisfied. This will come from nearly 20 years of the battle and more than a decade of self-education on this topic.
 
My goal is to genuinely be of service and help at least up to 100 people suffering with mental illness around the world, and at some point in my lifetime…. Additionally, connecting this to my PhD topic, I also eventually hope to create a foundation to support the conversation and services of mental health and illness (an under-represented area) in war-torn fragile and conflict-affected countries.
 
In the process, if I do help others, it will help me as well. So, to my colleagues, friends, acquaintances, family, and more: I hope it will eventually be clear as to the reason why I am transparent and don’t sit in privacy and silence on these issues. Part of it is the enlightenment about what revelation, transparency, and openness can do for an individual’s internal freedom. Part of it is also about the surrounding environment that does not welcome such conversations and does not fully see the “public” value of it.
 
I am a fully qualified professional with a wealth of experiences as well as a future academic, and I do have a long way to go to further these credentials. But the more we assume our “honor” and “image” and “reputation” is at stake for sharing openly about mental health issues, the more we unconsciously contribute to that stigma. We should no longer be afraid. Whether I am hired or fired or disadvantaged for whatever professional pursuit I carry on, transparency is the right policy in these things for the health of yourself and your surrounding environment, as mental health impacts others as well as yourself. Marginalizing those who suffer, either overtly or in silence, will be counterproductive to solving the problem, and will create more harm than good, more hostility than peace, more pain than happiness, more rifts and barriers than understanding and bridges.
 
I say all this because, I know I am going to get a lot of “haters” or “critics” and the like for being honest and transparent on all of this and other issues I stand for, and to some extent I already have, and it will grow.
 
But in all honesty, I have already faced quite a bit of adversity in my life on many things, and I recognize with my values and passions, and all the different identity intersections, I will have much more. But I believe it has built a strength in me which will continue to grow, and for that reason, I will be prepared and will continue the battles as a Warrior Queen, and I hope in the process, I can join others on similar journeys, and others can join me as well on mine.
 
Thank you, with much sincerity and heart.
 
Sending you peace and love,
 
Elsa,
 
The Warrior KQueen”

“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage.” Sidney Smith

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