Funny that this should come up today, because I’ve been feeling this super heavy lately, particularly when it comes to speaking and presenting.
I’m beyond grateful for the work I get to do. I also know that it’s well-earned and it’s not just a privilege. I've more than put in my 10,000 hours and so...yeah.
What’s weighed on me most recently is that much of the impact of what I speak to comes from me reliving racist trauma and sharing it through stories. That, in and of itself, is emotionally taxing. Just the other day, after my keynote, a handful of folks thanked me and mentioned how my talk made them cry. While I also feel honored and flattered by that, it was a reminder to me that the stories aren't just sad for everyone else. I have a brave face on, but it's important for me to not just keep masking and pretending that it's easy to relive all of this for the sake of driving a point home for an audience.
Add to all of that, that I do a lot of this in spaces where I look up to see I'm the only (or, at best, one of very few) person who shares that identity and in whom I could possibly find some....thing safe?
In this last series of conferences I had a particularly shitty experience with someone and on top of the harm of the situation itself, it was also a reminder of how lonely and isolating these spaces can be. It felt like there was nowhere to go, no sanctuary. That's not to say there aren't great people, and that within them, there aren't especially safe individuals whom I know would defend/support/shield me as best as they know how. I just don't think folks know how mentally and emotionally exhausting it is to be so measured and calculated at all times, in spaces that can sometimes blur professional and social lines but not necessarily on your terms...
I don't know. I'm venting. If there's a concrete takeaway from this it's to always consider the costs and the dynamics at play, especially when it comes to having folks of marginalized identities come through and do that sort of work. It's so much heavier than the 45 minute presentation.