Wellbeing, identity and belonging

Stephen King is a prolific writer and while I have never read his books (too scared!) I have listened to his many commentaries on writing. He expresses the craft of writing as almost a duty. He describes being in a state where he is “swimming in a sea of language” – describing how we are driven as humans to express ourselves and in doing so invite others to know us – I like that, yet it leaves me wondering why with so much language around us, so many stories to be told, we hear so few? 

The importance of knowing ‘self’ and having your story recounted and understood is a recurrent theme in the writings of the black female writers ( whom I have read!) …bel hooks, Dadzie, Angelou, Campbell and Lorde. At the Making Diversity Interventions Count conference today (University of Bradford), I found myself thinking about these writers and writing – the links between King and those strong women I know so well: seemingly so different in their subject matter yet unted in the need to express themselves and I doing so we may understand ourselves better. 

King talks about the importance of having “no fear or shame in the dignity of your own experience or knowledge” ,something which is central to black women’s writings about their lives, identity and the importance of self knowledge. Angelou and others remind us of the importance of our own biographies, developed through a sense of ‘self’ an appreciation of ourselves and others. Through these writers we are reminded to acknowledge our own importance and be mindful to locate our experiences as part of what makes us unique, yet collectively human – failure, succes, pride, challenge and happiness find their form in ‘us’  and make us who we are.

But what does that have to do with wellbeing you may ask? 

Our personal and professional selves are forever bound. As individuals, families and members of communities, our feelings of belonging is key. It remains crucially part of our professional selves – as a nurse, manager or patient, our sense of belonging and self shape our world and experiences of it. These experiences are the roots of our wellbeing – our feeling of acceptance and purpose. This is not simply bound in the present but in the experiences of our recent and ancestral past. When we forget this, and disassociate our selves from our work, compassion and care struggle to survive.

There is a great site called Buttonpoetry.com where individuals are encouraged to share, through poetry their sense of self, that which reflects their identity and belonging, that which locates who they are and through which their personal and professional agency is channelled. ( take a look, it’s great!)

With that in mind, I have chosen to share my poem with you…

“I am from the ancestors. 

I am from a place of love.

A stargazer lily; single, bright – yet bound and clustered on a strong, single stem.

I am from laughter, love and tears.

I am from supportive challenge -“be the best YOU, no one else”

I am black, Dominican and proud. 

I am macaroni cheese and red snapper.

I am from stories about me, about us.

I am from the ancestors “