As long-time readers know, I spent two of the last three years studying at a community college. I really enjoyed that time, I learned a great deal not just about the subject matter of whatever class I was in (I should hope I learned something in those classes!), but by interacting and listening to the man students around me from a variety of backgrounds. Working in the Writing Center taught me an amazing amount as well in my every-day interactions.
Being in college also showed me I have a brain. We all do. And the more discussions I was participating in, the more interactions with those around me I had, the more notes I took and the more books I read, the smarter I felt. The better grasp I felt I had on the world.
This gave me some ego.
I took this ego, happily, with me to Wales. I continued learning during this last year off, listening to news podcasts, philosophy podcasts, participating online and so on. However, I wasn’t actually interacting with those around me, not in real life. I was around people, but no one wanted to talk politics, despite all the upheaval going on with the British government. No one wanted to discuss human rights, racism (which I was told just wasn’t here (never mind the prejudice against people who might be Muslim, apparently)), or anything of any depth. So, I found myself in a digital echo chamber.
Except I was getting left behind. Because none of my discussions were with real live people outside a digital box, I was missing out on nuances, I was missing out on certain details because there was time for edited responses. I found that the holes I was developing in my understanding of certain issues were growing deeper, and wider. So I began trying to use rusted logic to fill in those holes, which in theory is fine, until that logic stops evolving and then is expressed in the big ol’ world.
There were a few times I spoke without thinking, without being aware of my audience. My ego told me it’s fine, I’m a smart cookie. And then, when the responses came in, I recoiled in horror at my own words. I realized that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I didn’t have the agency I thought I had developed. I was just another person putting half-conceived notions into the world and just making an ass out of myself.
So, for a while, I’ve been afraid to blog. That’s part of the reason there’s been a lapse as well. I stuck to my website (writing fiction and book reviews is pretty safe in that regard), and to my travel blog (also safe), but neglected this one. Aside from the IFTTT problems I was having, I was afraid of putting my thoughts and views out there because I didn’t trust that I didn’t have developed enough ideas, and that I was just creating content for content’s sake, which is only contributing to the utter crap out there–which, I suppose, anyone could argue that everyone is doing that, depending on the angle you look at it.
What’s worse, is that feeling of ignorance on my end was also keeping me from deciding to go back to university. What if I completely lost how to write an essay, or what an essay is even compiled of? What if I don’t actually know anything (which I don’t), and I’m unable to do well in this new, strict setting? What if I’m a complete failure, and all the money spent on tuition is just a waste?
So I hid. I’m really good at hiding while I sort my head out. And that’s what I did. I still think that I’m pretty ignorant. But I also think that I pick up on formulas pretty quickly, so I think I’ll have university figured out fairly well. BUt as far as my general understanding of the world around me?
There was a time that I felt this before. It was the first time I lived in Wales, and I didn’t think I knew anything. I was fresh out of high school, and cocky as all hell, and when I came here, I just knew nothing. So, I kept my mouth shut. I watched. I listened. I read. I reflected. I learned. And really, that’s something I should be doing now. If I want to be able to gain the most out of life, and being the biggest support to the communities around me, if I want to be the best ally I can be to anyone suffering an injustice, the best thing I can do is listen and learn.
The paradox (ok, perhaps too strong of a word, but gets the idea across) is that now I’m a blogger. Twelve years ago, I was just a kid who was lucky to get online once a week. Now I’m a blogger with an audience, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, a website, and all the rest. How do I remain silent and listening while still trying to get my voice out there? Only write what I know? But if I’m at a point of admitting that I know nothing, then what do I write about?
I suppose I’ll share my answer when I come to it. In the mean time, enjoy the rest of my ponderous meanderings, and please, correct me when I’m wrong, engage me in discussion. Challenge me! How can I be a good human being if I’m not challenging my own ideas?