The Validity of Self

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-expression.

It’s something that I feel is very important and essential to the human experience. It is also something I struggle with the most. I don’t feel like I adequately express my thoughts in any situation. I think all day, about anything and everything. But later, when I have the ability to verbalize those thoughts? Nothing. It’s like I’ve never spoken before.

Part of my struggle with self-expression is from internalized censorship. I get extremely uncomfortable writing down my thoughts and feelings, for fear of repercussions. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, you know. While words can be used to inflict pain, the fact that an individual’s own thoughts and words are valid remains. Just because someone doesn’t like what you have to say, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it. The obvious caveat here is to not be a douche to others. There is a difference between self-expression and malice.

Words are important and powerful, but this power goes both ways. Words can be freeing and powerful. They can also be hateful and constricting. Either way, words have meaning. Getting your thoughts out is integral to good mental health. So what does one do when the words are stuck?

To be honest, I’m still not sure.

I journal sporadically–and by sporadically I mean maaaaaybe once or twice every few months. Sometimes I have the energy to express myself creatively and can work on a piece. Usually, I just sit and think in my head for hours and never actually express any of it. If it’s not expressed, it’s not real. Rinse and repeat.

This leads to me being stressed out and tense, and often looking for but never executing any forms of release. I mindlessly read a lot of AskReddit threads. An SVU marathon? Great. How else can I distract myself from the never-ending whirlwind of thoughts that I need to get out, but can’t? Or rather, won’t let myself get out?

Every day, I give myself a pep talk. Everything I want to express, I prepare myself to say out loud. Verbalize it. Make it real. Let it be known. Every day, I try and fail to verbalize this.

Is it possible to know who you are if you can’t express yourself? What happens if you lose the ability to express yourself–do you cease to exist? Do you stay stagnant, forever your last age that allowed self-expression? How long can you wait for this ability to return? Will it?

The kicker is that I am the one holding myself back. All I can do is keep trying. Keep trying to remember to practice self care. Keep trying to write when I can get through the discomfort. Keep trying to work through my shit. Maybe one day, self-expression will make it’s way back to me.

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