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Welcome to The Feminist Vegan, where I write about wellness, mental health, and personal growth, all through the lens of social justice.

I Am Not What I Write

I Am Not What I Write

When I arrived in my current city, I needed to buy a pen. I am particular about pens, since I write pages of longhand every day and the feel of the ink on the page matters to me. I combed through stationery shops and school supply bins, testing the pens surreptitiously on the back of my hand until the skin turned as blue-black as my tattoo. Unexpectedly, I found my pen in a kitschy gift shop. It is cheap white plastic covered in blue polka dots, and it wrote like a dream on the scrap of paper I pulled out of my bag in the store. Words curl across one side of the pen and when I read them I knew that I would take it home with me: 

No soy lo que escribo sino lo que tu sientes al leerme.

I am not what I write, but rather what you feel when you read my writing.

It took me a long time to call myself a writer. I still feel like a fraud when I say it out loud. Even though I have been writing my entire life, I do not want to call myself a writer. Even though that is what I am. Because - and this voice in my head berates me daily with this question - what are my qualifications? Where are my front-page articles, my books, my journalism chops, my literature degrees? Where are your bylines, she asks? 

Here, I say. I point to a page on my website: C L I P S. At least a few people like my writing enough to publish it.

Those aren't enough, she says. You aren't a writer. 

Some days, I hang my head in agreement. Never mind that I worked as a writing adviser for three years. It's not enough.

Never mind that I have written nearly every day of my life. It's not enough.

Never mind that I write because I breathe and the only times in my life when I don't write are the times when I feel like I am gasping for air. Not enough.

Never mind that all it really takes to be a writer is to put some words down on paper. To get off your ass (or rather, sit down on it) and just write. This voice - she is never satisfied. I am never enough.

No soy lo que escribo sino lo que tu sientes al leerme.

I am not what I write, but rather what you feel when you read my writing.

In the past year, I have cast off most of the labels that used to make me who I am. I quit my job, so I no longer have a neat answer when someone asks me what I do. I broke up with my long-term partner; I'm not anybody's girlfriend anymore. I don't live in my old house or my old neighborhood and I can't be traced on a map. I don't do most of the things that I used to do, and in the past I defined myself by these pursuits. Writer Dodai Stewart said that oftentimes we define ourselves by external things, and so the beauty of solo travel is that it forces us to be alone in our own skin. To remember who we are and how we want to move through the world.

When I stripped away the trappings of my external life, shedding identifiers like pieces of clothing, one truth remained: 

I am a writer. 

I don't have the qualifications that I used to think I needed to be a writer. I never worked at my school paper, and I don't have a degree in journalism or English. Nobody gave me a fancy job title, and nobody gave me permission. Especially not the voice in my head telling me that I'll never be enough.

I am a writer because I write and when I write sometimes some people feel something.

No soy lo que escribo sino lo que tu sientes al leerme.

I am not what I write but rather what you feel when you read my writing. When you read me.

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