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silencing myself

jo's picture

You'll notice this post is quite late. And I didn't forget. Maybe I did procrastinate a bit, but then when I sat down to write the post, I just couldn't do it. I was already somewhat overwhelmed by the small amount of the texts I had read, and feeling anxious about what I would write. I began scrolling through other posts, hoping to find something to which I could respond, but I found myself growing even more overwhelmed. The posts were great, and very insightful, but the sheer bredth of topics sent my mind and my thoughts in several different directions and I couldn't really follow any of them.

Finally, after reading them all and freaking out that it was well after 5, I closed my computer and decided to leave it for later, knowing that I wasn't going to get anywhere right then. After thinking on it some more, I realized I had silenced myself. Many people, like HSBurke and Chandrea have mentioned how they find it easier to express themselves through these posts than in class, but I find it so much more difficult. I think part of it is that I struggle with collecting my thoughts, making them intelligible. In class, everyone directs the conversation together, and though it can often be all over the place, I can usually think of something to say that fits wherever whe are at that moment. And in terms of comfort, I think it is the permanence of what I say here that makes me feel less confident than I do. Similar to Sharaai, I was very uncomfortable speaking in class when I first got to Bryn Mawr, and would always practice what I wanted to say in my head, often chickening out at the last moment. And like Sharaai, it was only by taking lots of other discussion-based classes and having conversations outside of class that I grew more confidence.

I love the idea of posts, and I love that they give some people the opportunity to share complex and insightful opinions and experiences that they might not always want to or be able to share in class. I also like how it enables anyone to reply to anyone without the time constraints of class. But in class, when I speak, no one can hear what I said over and over as many times as they want; I say it, people hear it, and then it disappears into the air, into their minds or memories. Here, anything I write is open to judgement, and though I trust everyone in the class to be open-minded and kind, this added pressure makes me freeze up sometimes. I also always feel the need to post something remarkable, insightful, and interesting (though, as Sharaai said, because I have my own experiences and background, anything I say will bring something unique and beneficial, as is true of anyone).

All of this put together, I didn't get my post done on time, and, in silencing myself, I thought about our ongoing discussion of the selfishness of withholding one's opinions/being silent in a discussion. I was taking in so much from everyone's amazing posts but not putting anything back.

I'm still (I know...) organizing my thoughts about the Delpit reading, as it brought up a lot for me, some of which feels quite complicated. Like Dan, and for similar reasons, I really appreciated Esteniolla's post. Though I think I inherently knew a lot of what Delpit explained about the culture of power, I hadn't ever thought about it so explicitly, and of course I had always been seeing power and privilege in the classroom from my own place of privilege, having grown up within this culture of power. I want to go more into this now, but I think I'll be able to figure out what I want to say easier in class when I can bounce my thoughts off of all you lovely people and your words, so I'll leave it til tomorrow. Sorry about being late!