Five years to this day, I wrote and published my first blog post. I still recall all too vividly how petrified I was to share my thoughts and words with the world; how I feared being met with rejection and ridicule. As afraid as I was to reveal myself to the world after years of hiding behind a carefully cultivated persona of the ‘intellectual academic,’ I had to take that risk.
For the first time in my life, I was open about my experiences and feelings of growing up with a visible difference, a scar on my unevenly shaped lip and a wonky nose, as a result of being born with a cleft lip and palate. Until I published that first blog post, I had never spoken aloud about my ‘disfigurement’ to anyone but my mother, husband and therapist.
A stint as a volunteer with Changing Faces, the UK-wide charity that supports people with a visible difference, changed all that. Becoming a parent also played a part in my decision to write openly and honestly about my experiences. For my own sake, and for that of my children, I had to stop hiding my true self and start living, speaking and writing authentically. And so, the Born Whole blog came into being.
At first, the blog focused on my personal experiences living with a visible difference. I wrote about feeling anything but whole, and of being bullied for my appearance as a child. I wrote about the sense of isolation I sometimes experience as a result of persistent hearing loss caused by all too many ear infections as a child. And I wrote about pursuing academia as a means to compensate for what I used to see as my physical failings.
The overarching message I sought to convey with my blog, and which still informs my writing today, is that we are all born whole. Irrespective of our physical attributes, the number of chromosomes we carry, our physical and intellectual abilities and limitations, we are all born whole. It took me forty years to realise this, however, having spent years living with a false belief that my birth defect rendered me less than whole.
Over time, as I kept writing a weekly blog, topics other than ‘disfigurement’ and disability crept into my writing. This development was probably inevitable, given that I have a background in political science and international relations, and have always been deeply engaged with politics, human rights, and social justice.
Far from representing a departure from my original intention with the blog, I consider the growing range of topics a natural and necessary expansion within the overall concept of born whole. For it’s a concept that is relevant to everyone, not only to people with a visible difference or disability.
As a white woman married to a black man with whom I’m raising two children of mixed heritage, racism is something we speak openly about at home. However, a lifetime of white privilege means I still have a lot to learn. I write about that, and I write about climate change, which is perhaps the most critical existential challenge of our times. I also write about the trials and tribulations of raising strong-willed daughters and my efforts to teach them not to be good girls.
Although I’m not very good at patting myself on the back for a job well done, today I celebrate the fact that for half a decade, I’ve consistently produced a blog post every Thursday, save for the occasional holiday break. I think that’s a pretty decent achievement.
Five years of blogging and I plan to carry on for a while longer. The range of topics may have grown since I first started out but whatever I write about I do so mainly from a personal perspective; and with the hope that my words may resonate with those who come across my blog.
Ultimately, writing also helps me to stay true to myself and my commitment to be as authentic as possible in the world.
Thank you for reading!