I heavily recommend you listen to me reading this reflection as you follow along with the post. It sounds like a spoken word. Please, I spent a lot of time doing it and I feel like my words carry more meaning with the audio. However, I know that not everyone is an auditory learner, which is why the text version of the letter is also available. Thank you so much for reading.
Quite often, I forget that I've been a blogger for a long time. I'm fifteen and it doesn't seem like it, but my "blogging age" is embarrassingly long. However, in my however many years, I never once thought of doing a reflection of my journey. That is, until now.
Realize that the reason I'm doing this is because I need you to understand that there is a person behind the screen. Whenever I have to talk about something personal and potentially hard-hitting, I always try to go with my voice, my face - something to remind each other that the screens we hide behind are not real.
I started blogging as a tiny middle-schooler who didn't know the first thing about it. I was deathly afraid of making mistakes, so I didn't make... anything. I sat in my little bubble of positivity, tweeting happy and unrealistic shit about the books I don't even remember. I complimented bloggers on their hair, their blog, just goddammit - I want you to like me. Now that I think about it, in my blissful ignorance, I can't really think of a blogger that didn't.
But in doing so, I made myself as bland as a cardboard cutout. I've talked about this so many times and it won't hurt to repeat - I am Nova. Je suis Nova. 我是 Nova. I don't need more languages to express this. But online, I didn't feel like her.
You may remember my letter to 2015, where I promised myself to be more fearless, to be brave and to be kind. I want to be a good person. That is my intention in the long run. Let me say it again, I want to be a good person. And yet... I found myself situated in problem after problem, making decisions that I now stand by. I found myself causing problem after problem, speaking up, saying things I never would've said before. I talk about diversity, signal boost articles on marginalized groups. I leave my thoughts on anything I see, negative or positive. I subtweet because I am not at the comfort level to openly disagree with people on their spaces.
By nature, I am loud. My voice carries around. You've given me power to speak by listening. Friends, lend me your ears as I make one thing abundantly clear: I will mess up. I have messed up and holy shit, I know it. My opinions are as strong as the coffee I make on Monday morning. We could talk all day on how I believe that the minute someone goes from defending a victim to name calling, the hero becomes the villain. I could sit here and tweet up a storm about the way a problem becomes a volcano becomes a natural disaster and one person gets blamed. I could ride my horse till morning and outrun all of my problems but they have cars and the internet. God, the internet. An archive of all the times I've messed up in one convenient package.
So how, you ask, do you make waves?
Number one: Tweet fearlessly (and learn to apologize too.)
Be confident in what you say, know it's the right thing, or don't speak at all.
Number two: Be prepared [to mess up.]
Sometimes, things don't go our way. We make mistakes; hurt each other and do all the things we promised we wouldn't. But to some people, it doesn't matter how kind of a person I am in my day job, if I help people in need outside of the internet. If I mess up once on the internet, things are already over. Some people wait on the bleachers for a blunder just to strut around with their righteous attitude while I'm on the floor. This is what terrified me as a tiny middleschooler; the very moment where people who I thought were friends would start to see me as someone who makes mistakes. As someone who is... human.
Number three: realize that these are not friends.
Friends don't spotlight shortcomings with flashlights; they light the path to retribution**. But let me tell all of you, I am, you are, all of us, we are good people who screw up. It might be often or almost always. I rely on a heartfelt apology, DM session and hope to let the other person know that I am sincerely sorry. It doesn't always work but it isn't about "work," it's about "try." I rely on the others; the people who will tell me when I am wrong but support me as a learner, nonetheless. By making waves, I find out who my real friends are.
My journey is about finding the balance in saying whatever the eff I want without injuring another soul. Perhaps one day, I'll be able to do this without any mistakes or misdeeds, but for now, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and just learn from those mistakes.
And even though I've definitely experienced crippling feelings of inadequacy and hurt from these confrontations, at least I'm not a cutout. At least I'm not a compliment machine who believes life is filled with rainbows. Life isn't filled with rainbows but it's mine, and everyone else's job to apply their humanity so one day, maybe it can be.
**the awkward moment when English isn't my parents' first language and the definition of retribution they taught me doesn't match dictionary.com. Sorry about that. Anyway, you know what I meant by that; a better word would be, *improvement.