Dear Reader, Dear You,
Today I finally stepped outside of my cozy little bubble of comfort and said something. I said it loud, and strong, and publicly. Though it was “said” in type via social media, it was still put out there for anyone to see. I endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the U.S. on behalf of Project:Women.
Why does it matter? I think it matters for two very specific reasons, one personal, the other universal. Both of equal importance.
The personal is about the individual– specifically, the individual’s right to say what she or he or they believe. That most core of values held by humanity, the one addressed by our First Constitutional Amendment. To be able to confidently, yet thoughtfully, speak out the convictions, feelings, points of view, concerns, questions, and values one holds in their conscious mind. To be not afraid to do so. To be not restrained by the fetters of opposing views. To stand up, bravely, and declare one’s stance on any subject regardless of its divisiveness.
For years– for my entire adult life– I have held back many of my deepest beliefs because I didn’t want to be the cause of a schism between me and my conservative extended family members. Being a member of such a tight-knit family, there was nothing in the world that I felt was worth standing up for and possibly losing that bond. But through the years I have watched each of them stand up for what they believe in, without a trace of fear. I’ve wondered why I couldn’t do the same, what it was that so stifled my full voice. I’m sure it was a big mixture of things, but I know it included love. My love for my extended family was always too big, too strong. It overshadowed my self. I always thought that was a good thing. But I don’t anymore. It has taken me over 30 years to learn that my voice matters, and that it is worth saying out loud. It doesn’t mean that I love them less, it means that I respect myself enough to stand up and speak.
The Universal is about everyone else– the Big Picture. We humans are not islands, we are nothing without connection, and we must live together and commune together on one big, beautiful, imperfect planet. Our individual choices affect one another. They are important.
Today was my first real, big, purposeful step forward towards reclaiming my own identity, and to building up and openly sharing who I am, what I stand for, what I believe. I hope whoever reads this will feel empowered by my words, and will not feel alone if they too (if you, too,) might be burdened by the same thing I was for so long. Don’t be afraid to speak– for who knows how your voice might affect the world.
From the Depths of my Heart,
PS. Thank you to my husband, Atanas Delchev, for tirelessly supporting me and continually encouraging me to speak my voice. I can never thank you enough… my dearest love.
Art: Self-portrait, Tara Tona, 2015