This past December I was published for the first time in print.
I didn’t tell anyone about it.
Shit, wait. I told my mom.
My piece is in the first volume of a beautifully curated zine out of Brooklyn called Ravenous Zine. I was so excited when my copy showed up in my mail box. It was beautiful. I was so proud of myself. And then I told basically no one.
Mallory, the dope chick who self published the zine, stumbled on one of my Instagram videos I posted about my experience with getting older as a woman in a society obsessed with youth and reached out to see if I could contribute to the zine with a piece on aging. I quickly agreed, a little surprised someone wanted to pay me and give me basically free reign for the piece, and after procrastinating until the last possible minute, I found a woman I wanted to interview through a Google search (who come to find out lived in my old neighborhood) and had myself a little sit down with a wonderful stranger in her 70s to talk aging.
EarthThunder, the woman I reached out to was a Shaman, a healer and a teacher of holistic health and medicine. I left the interview on cloud nine.
One of EarthThunder’s main points was as we age as women (and men), it’s our job to declare who we are—speak to the person we have decided to become and remind people of the stories and experiences that have filled us with wisdom and value that become gifts to share.
“…you know, I think we need to be educating along the way, at 25, 35, 45,- that being an elder with gifts, it’s not something you are handed, it has to be something you earn.”
Without hesitation she began to explain that there is a responsibility upon oneself throughout your entire life to become the kind of person that is seen as full of valuable wisdom and gifts among your community.
“You’ve got to start educating yourself about being the kind of person people come to for wisdom..Every individual has a responsibility to declare who they are.”
Shortly before Christmas, it arrived. I was so hyped to just hold this thing. The texture of the pages seemed to breath new life into my week.
I told myself I would write a post about it later for IG. And I’d bring my copy over to my Mom’s sometime to read.
I didn’t do either.
It felt like bragging or boasting, tooting my own horn. How fucked is that? I put something into the world that is literally meant to help women better navigate life and instead of using all my avenues and resources to spread the word, I worry about drawing attention to myself and being seen as boastful. And, I minimized the FUCK out of my accomplishment. 'It’s just a little zine, first edition. I could have written better if I hadn’t put it off for so long. It’s so focused on women, I’m sure I’ll turn off some men if I preach too much about how cool it all is. I’m pretty old to have this be my first “in print” published piece.'
I didn’t buy extra copies to send to friends, I didn’t even give a shout out to Mallory on the ‘ol IG for all the hard work she put into the zine and how absolutely beautiful it turned out.
I put off telling anyone about it and kept my mouth shut. I let the whole thing just pass by like another uneventful day.
“Every individual has a responsibility to declare who they are as they get older.”
The irony of the situation it not lost on me.
I failed to share because I had made the whole thing about me. I made it about my insecurities rather than sharing something that could be of use to the women and men in my life.
Wow. That’s it. I have made so much of my life about being helpful or useful only to take my skills or natural talents and keep them protected and saved for only intimate moments and close friends.
I am a writer. I write nearly everyday. I share about 1% of what I write because I’ve been petrified of looking stupid or boastful or wrong or naive. I’m smart and wicked talented when it comes to synthesizing the world around me connecting dots. Sure, there’s a ton of shit I don’t know and if I’m doing it right, I’m reminded of how little I know nearly everyday. But that’s no excuse to keep my mouth zipped. Keeping my gaze focused on what I don’t know, on how I will be seen in the world if I share my experience and knowledge, that shit’s just selfish and is the complete opposite of what EarthThunder spoke to. It feels in my bones, like the wrong thing to do. Every time I want to share, have something to say, play with the idea of chiming in, it lights me up. Then the selfish ass fear monster steps in like an old habit I can’t shake and reminds me I ain’t shit.
Crazy. Imagine how many men and women out in this big ol’ world have ideas, experiences and stories that could crack this whole world open, heal us, help us, but they never have the courage or the means to speak up. I have the means. So I guess that puts me in the "no-courage" boat.
If you’ve read my posts on IG or here and followed me for a bit maybe you’ve noticed the spurts of confidence in sharing my thoughts and the long, drawn out spells of silence paired with silly photos. Well, this piece is good reminder to keep at the collecting of wisdoms and sharing of stories. EarthThunder didn’t put the responsibility on men to change how women are valued as we age in our culture. She didn’t blame patriarchy or her upbringing. She stated it was her job as a woman to collect experiences and wisdoms to share so she is seen as a valuable elder in her community as she ages. At 35 I guess it’s not too late for me. And, practice makes perfect, right?
If you want to read my piece, or better yet, if you want to indulge in all the incredible articles, photos and illustrations you can order your copy of Ravenous Zine here. And give Mallory and all the contributors a follow if you feel inspired by what they’ve shared in this first edition. The messages, shoutouts and support on Instagram for my piece from readers is what fueled this whole post. Thank you.