Thursday, 7 April 2016

Opening Up

Last night I had the pleasure to attend a poetry event in the Netherlands for the second time of my life: House of Poets in Rotterdam. It still surprises me how poetry is alive after all, even in such a small country as the Netherlands. I have always found it difficult to be comfortable with my own hobby. "Normal kids" would play soccer, sing, draw, but all I ever had was this little notebook or phone where I'd scribble down my thoughts every now and then. Imagine writing poems on an old-school keypad where you had to press four times on the same button to get the letter "s". Such patience back then, yet nowadays I complain about writing taking too much time or energy.

But shouldn't it be giving me energy instead? I've been faring in still waters for quite some time now, thinking I was done polluting the ocean with my words, thinking there was no ink worth spilling anymore. Truth is, I was just locking everything up out of fear. Fear of exposure, fear of not being good enough. Nowadays we live in an era where it's becoming increasingly easy to validate ourselves through numbers and others. It's so easy to spread the word; nothing is safe once it's out in the open. Multiple platforms stand upright to spread rumours, you either go along with the waves of fame or be thrown against the rocks, so who doesn't want to learn to surf along?

Yet I've always found myself gathering the guts to open up, then I crawl back - open up, crawl back. Facebook allows us to monitor our privacy - I did, till the extent I only showed certain content to certain people. I played in the safe zone and everything was separate. My poetry life here, my university life there, and more personalities had to be created within their own personal bubbles. It's no wonder that the logistics inside of my head are messed up.

When you meet me for the first time you probably won't remember much - I'm just that quiet girl that sips her non-alcoholic drink in the corner and stands like a shadow. I'm everything the stereotype of an introvert claims to be. But just because I'm quiet doesn't mean I have nothing to say, I just say it without opening my mouth. I've always found it much easier to express myself through writing, especially in English because I never felt at home in my own country. My silence speaks volumes. Yet, I always remained what they call a "closet poet". I remained an introvert. I remained a nobody.

Going to a place where you meet people with your same interest can easily go wrong. The first time I went to the House of Poets I felt overwhelmed by the applause that others got. I was overwhelmed by their strength, honesty and love, but it thrilled me. The thought of having a voice, being heard, it motivated me, but I had to hold myself back from daydreaming and becoming greedy. That's what happens when you hide in the shadows for too long: you see the fire and you want to rush towards it, forgetting about how it might burn you. And believe me, I've burned before. With everything new I try I run the risk of comparing with someone else's success. I run the risk of wanting to imitate, wanting to become someone else, rather than embracing myself for who I am, or accepting that I am just starting out and that all great roads were built brick by brick.

Last night I performed a poem in front of a small crowd. There was no huge applause, there were no numbers, contrary to the first time I performed in Sydney. Yet I was proud of myself for opening up, in a country where I can't just say: "who cares, not like anybody is ever gonna see me again". Every time I stand in front of the microphone I consider it an achievement because it's the only time you'll find me screaming at you. Other than that, the added value of last night was having long conversations with strangers. Opening up all over again. But I'm not sorry.

I am done apologizing for liking what I like or feeling what I feel. I'm not a star, I still don't shine, but I'm gathering the candle lights step by step and I'm slowly taking off the melted wax from my mouth. This blog, and all the others before them, they're dangerous. They're risks I take towards exposure. They might suffer through my cruel judgement on disappearance any time soon, and I've been repeating this cycle for years. But if I keep disappearing and re-appearing, I might just lose myself. I am not trying to prove myself to anyone, I'm not trying to become a bubbly extrovert. I'm just trying to not feel shame or guilt over my own thoughts anymore, and speaking up is the first step.

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