I can feel it lately, though I don’t know how to describe it other than a deep internal rumbling, almost like hunger but thicker and complicated by a stew of emotions.
It started during my first graduate school class, when my professor told us that silence condones, that our voices as social workers are one of the most powerful tools in our possession, that words are a vehicle towards change.
It continued as my eyes were opened to the unearned privilege I’ve carried my entire life with complete unawareness, unawareness born because of that very privilege. It strengthened as I learned about our American system and how it is oppressive at it’s very core, how for the first 30 years of my life I have been quietly and passively walking on soil that is stained and stolen.
It grew louder, more ferocious, when the majority of the academic community which so loudly touted social justice values went mute surrounding mental illness issues. It writhed with loneliness and fear when I was told not to speak of my own struggles, not to share my personal story, not to be who I am.
And it’s there now, this rumbling, as I write these words. I’ve cried over it, denied it, tried to throw it away. I don’t want the heaviness of caring so much.
But I do.
So I’m releasing that rumbling, turning it into a thunder clap, a roar. I don’t want to be a part of a world where so much is broken, so many differences are ostracized and demonized and oppressed. I don’t know what it’s like to be black, to be homeless, to be Native American, and I hope to continue in my learning about allieship, about ways in which I can be a part of empowering those communities, raising those valuable voices above the din of privilege.
I do know what it’s like to have a mental illness. And I’m finished walking the tightrope between silent safety and outright openness. In a year and a half I am going to be a social worker who has attempted suicide, has scars from self-harm, has been in a psychiatric hospital multiple times. And I’m going to be a damn good one.
And I’m allowing that rumble to guide me, that passion to drive me towards working for change. I’ve always believed in the power of storytelling, that words matter. Now my words will have rumbling behind them.