Beware of Darkness: The Challenge of Writing in English When It’s Not Your Mother Tongue

Tulum – For the last three years, I’ve been in and out of a very dark cloud that is called blues. My mother’s cancer, the pandemic, losing my closest uncle and three months later, losing my aunt and seeing my father as the only survivor of his immediate family. Death have been a constant presence in my heart and in my mind.

While I dealt with the lost of loved ones and the challenge of my mom not letting cancer define her life, I questioned myself over and over again if I am a good storyteller or am I a fraud?

Drawing of me (5 years old): copyright Caitlyn Murphy

How did I started doubting myself or was it always there in the back of my mind?

January 26th 2020

There is date that we remembered forever for so many reasons: a combination of bad news mixed with a very tragic event.

Oh, to put you in context, I’m a French Canadian born and raised in Quebec speaking 2 languages and understanding almost 4 languages.

A quick shoutout to my bilingual childhood friends, Sesame Street, Jeopardy, and The Young and The Restless.

I try to write my posts mostly in English to reach out and to connect with you guys. To make a story short, I sent my questions for an interview in English to this person, and I double-checked the quality of my sentences and so did one of my besties (that is an anglophone from Toronto) and my beloved better-half. This person replied to me and made me feel stupid, incompetent, like she didn’t understand my simple questions. She probably assumed, because I’m a Quebecor, that my English wasn’t… comprehensible.

Maybe the problem is me; I’m being too sensible and takes things too personal.

Regardless, I did loose my self-esteem and wonder how one nasty comment can make me doubt my ability to connect with hundred people around the world.

Am I a fraud and my readers were just nice and polite with me?

While I was driving to the gym after reading the wrestler’s widow email, I learned the terrible news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, some of the Gigi’s teammates of Gigi, and their parents lost their lives on a helicopter accident.

I couldn’t believe it like the million people around the world. My thoughts switched automatically from self-pity into grief.

Virtual Insanity

In 2020, I saw how the online bullying have affected so many people including some friends of mine while losing people I know from Covid. Let me tell you that the cocktails of Covid, online bullying, racism, and violence did a number on me.

While I wrote some amazing articles, hell no did I get back my confidence. I was more paranoid than ever and way more self-conscious about writing in English.

Back at the end of 2020, I never thought that it would take another two years to feel a more confident. I’m not the most patient person in the world. But I needed to slowly but surely finding my voice and my inner self again.

Focusing on the positive

Talking to inspiring warriors such as Baria Alamuddin, Raine Maida, witnessing the courage and the determination of the veterans at The Invictus Games in The Hague, and watching my mom being the badass woman that she is, gave me the strength and the confidence I needed to keep caring on as a writer.

We tent to give a lot of fuel to negativity while we are submerged by it. That’s the trap. I needed to recollected and to refocus so I can get the hell out of this trap.

And now?

It’s still a work in progress and I just got out of the trap.

Copyright: The Chronicle Blog

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