Several months ago I took Isabel Abbott’s Unapologetic Writing class. I was trying to unlearn all the negative lessons I had internalized about what truths it was appropriate to speak and write. I wrote a lot and kept it all to myself. Most of what I produced was process writing—writing to help me work through the hurt and the anger and the fear. One piece emerged as a manifesto of sorts for my unapology—my taking back of apologies past and writing what needs to be written. It’s not a graceful poem, but it’s jarringly true, and at this moment that’s what counts.
Authenticity isn’t a thing, it’s a practice. And learning to live authentically is learning how our capitalist, patriarchal, heterosexist culture (yeah, I said it) is shaping us, and then asking ourselves “is that how I want to live? is that who I want to be? are these my values?” Believing in an authentic self that we are born with and need to discover is just as limiting as uncritically swallowing the cultural messaging and living according to those rules. I want to choose. I want to get up each day and know that how I live, how I interact with the world around me is my choice. I can’t live walled off from the world but I sure as hell want to actively participate in determining what that world will be.