To the mad people in my comments: Tell your own story

TypewriterOn May 25, 2016, I published “Mind your own womb,” about some of the struggles of women who want to conceive and others who already have. When I wrote it, I had no idea it would go viral. It actually started as a simple Facebook post, but it got so long that I decided to move it over here to my blog. I assumed I would get the usual assortment of shares and likes and that would be that. But it touched so many people and I’m truly grateful for that. I always hope that the things I write are beneficial to someone, even if its just me.

But what I’ve noticed (and this is common) is that anytime I write something that gets popular, there are people who cry, “What about me? You didn’t tell my story!” The only reply I have for those people is that you have to tell your own story. I say this not because I’m unwilling to tell it and not because I don’t think it has value, but because there CANNOT be only one story. There just can’t be. That blog could have gone on for another two thousand words and some women still would have been left out. No one person can do it all. If this world is going to work, if people are going to see and understand and receive each other, it will be because of the varied stories we tell that allow others to truly see us for who we are, no filter or distortions.

This is the message I tried to get across in this FB video, but I’m a better writer than I am a speaker so… just check it out.

MY BFIMH (best friend in my head) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks so eloquently about the danger of the singular story. To quote her 2009 Ted Talk (which I highly suggest you watch in its entirety), “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” That is not what I am here to do. I am fully aware that there are people who exist outside of those I describe. I know there are ideas, circumstances and emotions I have not shared. This is not to be exclusive, but only to be focused. My intention in everything I write is to share MY perspective. That perspective may mirror yours or it may be nothing like it, but it is mine always. So on those days where my perspective rubs you the wrong way, rest assured that there is more than enough space for you to share your own. And know the world will be better off because of it.

As a black Muslim woman, I stay on the outskirts of representation. Discussions of black women rarely include me spiritually, and discussions of Muslim women rarely include me racially and culturally. (Plus I’m just kinda weird in general so I don’t really fit with nobody!) But that’s why I have a whole separate blog dedicated to the intersection of race, religion and female bodies. Because what I’m not gon’ do is wait for other people to speak on my behalf. Nah, son. Can’t do it. If I’m feeling lonely in the dark, I’ll light a candle and make my own light.  This is a message marginalized/under-represented/misrepresented peoples really need to make use of. Wait for no one to champion your cause.

To that, some people may say, “But not everyone is a writer. We don’t all have the resources and ability to create a platform.” Understood, but if your story is important enough that you felt the need to give me an earful in the comments section of my blog, then you need to use your network to find the right people who can help you make it happen. Every day, cultural narratives are being maintained and changed based on the new stories that emerge and the old stories that linger. Don’t think you have to be a bystander in that.

~Nadirah Angail

Photo credit: Florian Klauer, Unsplash

 

16 thoughts on “To the mad people in my comments: Tell your own story

  1. Mary Holmes Johnson May 28, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    Maturity can be a motivational tool to try something different or it can be a stumbling block towards change! I had to look beyond The mirror of an aging face into I must try before I’m one year older wishing that I had tried last year. The employment issue of those who find themselves at 50 plus wondering which way to turn! When hopes of finding gainful employment which would not only lift their head but also relieve some of the financial woes! How does one start all over again when student loans are at the door blocking the opportunity to try again. I’m one of those who had to make the choice of starting over moving forward into an unknown future of regrets of “Could of Would have tried harder. I’m so glad that I did make the choice to move forward now I have2 degrees! Not bad for a high school dropout from Arkansas.

  2. Anonymous May 28, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    Overthinking kills

  3. Juana May 29, 2016 / 3:10 am

    I love this! Everyone has a story to tell. It is easier than ever to tell our stories, too.

  4. Nazia May 29, 2016 / 3:26 am

    JazaakAllahkhayr for addressing this sister, there are so.many scenarios that not everyone is aware of, it is unfair to put it on you to cover it. You wrote a beautiful article which surely did arouse many emotions in plenty of women. I did my own addition to your article and shared it on my page along side your article and many related.

    Somewhere there is a woman, 32 and not married. People ask her ‘When will you marry?’ She smiles, gives a little shrug and says ‘one day’

    ‘Well hurry and settle, you know having kids gets more difficult once you’re in your 30s’. She holds her smile. Alone, she cries…

    Cries because nobody understands her struggle. Cries because she tried and failed once, twice, the third time and doesn’t know what to do anymore. Cries because she wanted to have a big family, now having any family seemed a dream far fetched. Cries because nobody wants to help. Cries because her friends have settled and are too busy to spend abit of time with her. Cries because she wanted to be a young mother, now she doesn’t know if she will even get to be a wife let alone a mother. Cries because she has no one to comfort her. Cries because she sees families having picnics and enjoying each others company whilst she sits alone waiting for someone. Cries because everyone says be patient, but do they know what patience means. Cries because she’s been forgotten.

    Addition to Mind Your Own Womb for my single sisters ❤

    • N. Angail May 30, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      Thank you for your addition. It is perfect.

  5. cassandra May 29, 2016 / 6:01 am

    I was very inspired by your article, Mind Your Own Womb. I’m a young, (hopefully budding haha) artist in the theatre scene and am exploring playwrighting. Would I be able to obtain permission from you to write a play based around different women’s lives about their wombs and title it Mind Your Own Womb too? I would definitely credit you for the inspiration and the stories based upon. & I would love to share it with you if I definitely get through with writing a play based on this theme! 🙂

    Cheers, Cassandra

  6. Anne Moran May 29, 2016 / 5:38 pm

    Same happened to me. 2 miscarriages; 3 failed IVFs. Finally one day a wise woman said to me “do you want to give birth or be a mother?” I said be a mother. She said “adopt.” I did. It was my aha moment and I’ve been blessed with a son. 💗💗💗

  7. suzi May 30, 2016 / 3:42 am

    I was one of the zillions who saw an fb share of ‘Mind Your Own Womb’ & have been having a look back through your blog. Just wanted to say you have some great writing here & have enjoyed your point of view on all sorts of things, lol. It’s amazing how that single article has generated so much interest, but deservedly. Incredibly beautiful & empathetic. There’s so much healing happening amongst the comments, i suspect it will keep rolling as people do tell their own story. Great huh! Better get the follow up book done 😉

  8. Hana May 30, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    FANTASTIC blog, FANTASTIC thoughts and articles! definitely will follow, I have a lot to learn from you.

  9. Adeyinka May 30, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    Thank so much for your write up’mind your own womb’. I am really blessed. It is an eye opener for me that someone should not judge or criticise because everybody is battling with one challenge or the other at every point.

  10. Crystal Holmes June 1, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    This was such a loving way to respond to the criticism. The insistence that whatever someone else writes should apply to Me is such a strange thing to find on the internet, but it’s everywhere. I was humbled and inspired by the discipline with which you responded. This was my first time reading your blog (my friend shared “Mind Your Own Womb” on Facebook). I’m looking forward to exploring more of your writing.

    • N. Angail June 1, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      Thank you. Yes, it is challenging dealing with some of the comments. This is all a learning experience for me. And Ive already learned not to take things personally, even if others want me to. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Hashima (The Modesta) June 6, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    I love this post! People really do forget that they have a voice to tell their own story. Thanks for the reminder, and done in such a tactful way. Kudos to you for choosing to tell your story. I know firsthand that it takes courage and self awareness to do that.

  12. Aanuolutomiwa June 17, 2016 / 9:30 am

    keep doing your thing dear, i shared it on my blog.
    you can visit on burnamite09.wordpress.com

  13. faiththroughfibroids August 3, 2016 / 6:32 am

    I read Mind Your Own Womb on Facebook. I shared it and both men and women commented or spoke to me personally about the things people have said to them. I just started my own blog about fibroids and women’s reproductive health.The article I’m writing this week concerns the words people say, usually meaning no harm. I would love to link your “Mind Your Own Womb” article to it, if that’s okay. Keep writing. Thank you!

    • N. Angail August 14, 2016 / 2:05 am

      Of course its ok. Ill be sure you check yours out!

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