Being More Authentically Me

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Audio description of this video: I’m a medium build white human, with medium length straight purple hair with dark brown roots. I’m wearing round horn-rimmed glasses and a purple cord necklace with a cage with two gemstones in. I’m wearing a beautiful halterneck top in a multi-coloured 60’s pyscadelic pattern which was handmade by one of my talented 15 year old students, and Lucy & Yak trousers with Sanna Suvi’s vulva pattern on them. I’m sitting on a sofa with large brightly coloured patterned pillows behind me and a cream wall.

What this video is about
So, hi. So. I know the world has been a bit all over the place topsy-turvy lately, starting with lockdown, and coming round to the incredible support we are now seeing for the Black Lives Matter movment and trans rights, which I hope continues – and I plan to be a part of.

I know that the last few months have been really hard for most people. I live on my own, and whilst I am hugely independent, being on my own for the first three months of lockdown was really difficult at times, however, it also has given me a chance to reflect on what I’m doing with my life, and what I want my future to be. I’ve also been having therapy since November, which has helped with this reflection as well, plus I’ve had a whole bunch of friends on the end of a video call for me when I’ve needed them.

So I’m doing a video now because I just want to talk to everyone that’s following me – be you a friend, be you family, be you student, be you the parent of a student, be you somebody who has seen me perform – or anything else – whoever you are. I am aware I have a wide range of people that follow me from all different walks of life – all different ages. And this is kind of a video to tell you what I’m planning to do with my social media prescence going forwards.

Intro to my thoughts
So you may have seen – I hope you have seen – that in the last month or so, the posts I’ve been sharing on my social media, are a lot more … political I guess you could say. Opinionated maybe. I’ve been vocal on specific issues that I am passionate about. I’ve been sharing things about the Black Lives Matter movement, about Trans rights, and info about accessibility and disabilities too.

So one of the things that I’m doing this video for is to let you know that I am going to be expanding on that – on what I share on this platform over the next few months, and into the future. Many of you will have already seen that I am very open with talking about things like therapy, and I want to continue to be open and honest about me as a human – about who I am, and what I believe in.

Why now
As a private teacher and mentor, I feel that I’ve got a unique position where I’m not governed by any policies set out by a place of formal education. Up until now – although I have been open in some ways that I know other teachers and educators wouldn’t have been, I have also been careful about sharing things that I feel that are maybe “outside of my lane”, but I’ve been realising over the last few months, that if it’s important to me, and important to life in general, then how is it out of my lane? I’m an educator.

So for a long time – and I mean the whole of my career – since I started when I was 19, with teaching students singing for a company – I have been trying to behave in the way that I thought I should. I have looked at teachers and educators that I’ve had growing up, and I’ve tried to fit into the box of how they behaved, feeling like that’s the right thing to do – not taking into account that they are totally different people to me – and they’re also a totally different generation. I’ve been scared that if I step outside of what’s considered “appropriate” for me to talk about and share – if I start sharing things that might be considered controversial – because of my position as an educator, that people won’t want to be taught by me, and I will lose my career. Even whilst doing this video, knowing what I want to share with you all, I am scared that this is a possibility.

Life Learning
I am still growing as a person. I will forever be growing as a person – I believe in life-long learning. And there are a lot of causes that I’m passionate about, and there are a lot of things that I am, that are more than “just a singing teacher”, and I want to be able to share more freely about every aspect of who I am, because I feel that in my lessons and groups, I teach so much more than just one subject – I talk about all sorts of current issues and personal struggles that my students experience, and teach them life skills as well, through my experiences that I have, and so I want to open that up to be how I conduct myself online as well.

The scary bit
So. (Here’s the scary bit). Here’s some info on what I’m looking at putting on my social media. There is a lot, however it’s all part of me, so I hope that it will all flow together nicely, and make sense!

My Queer Identity
So. I already share lots of things about Queer issues. I am Queer, and therefore this will be continuing, and I will probably be ramping up how much I share. I’m actually currently working on a new project with someone – which I’m really really excited about – which is aimed at supporting Queer people across the UK, so there’s gonna be a cross over with as well – so I’m really excited to be able to tell you more about that when we’ve got it up and running. I am also doing ongoing personal learning about trans voices, so that I can understand the effects HRT have on the voice, so I am able to teach singing to both transmasc and transfemme people – and non-binary, and gender-fluid, and everyone else as well. I am currently exploring my own gender, and in the last few months I’ve been identifying as gender-fluid. Which is quite scary to say. Many of you may have seen that my pronouns are they and she, and I’m still exploring this. I do believe that gender and sexuality are fluid, so this way of identifying makes a lot of sense to me at the moment. So yeah – my pronouns are they and she, and they are listed in my bio, and I would prefer people to not refer to me as girl/woman/female, however am okay with she pronouns. As an educator – if you have any questions, feel free to ask me – I am still figuring this out for myself – it is new for me, but I’m getting there, I’m figuring it out.
So that’s one thing.

Love Yourself
I am already a big advocate of “love yourself for who you are” – the body positivity movement – or however you want to describe it. The incredible Vieness started me on this journey – if you don’t know Vie, of Vieness Discover You, Love You CIC, you need to – she’s amazing. She started me on this journey a few years back, and I have just learnt so much about myself since starting on it. And I want to help others with this as well, so I’m going to start sharing more about my personal journey, with photos and writings and possibly some drawings that I’ve done as well.

As with learning to love the skin that you are in, I’m a huge advocate for shouting about your talents, and being brave with showing off things that you find scary to share, so I’m going to be sharing more about this sort of thing – encouraging people, and I will be sharing friends and students work more, as well as trying to share more of my own original work – which I have done a little over the last few months, so just hopefully expect a little more of that too.

The new stuff
So those are all things I already share, but I’m going to be more open with. There are a few things that I have kept completely off my social media up until now, which I’m now going to be bringing in.

Challenging myself
So. The first thing is that I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD. This is something I’d suspected for a while, and now I have confirmation, and I’m wanting to talk about it freely on here. This is new ground for me, and I have had quite a few difficult moments since I was diagnosed last month, with challenging my internalised ableism when seeing the word disabled on my diagnosis, and imposter syndrome as well, and I’d like to share more openly about these things with you, because they’re all very human – and as an educator, I’m teaching you not just how to sing, but I hope, a little something about the world as well.

On the topic of disabilities – in the last month or so, along with my ADHD diagnosis, I have had to also come face to face with my back problems for the first time in a really long while. I have chronic back pain, which I have had since I was at least 14 years old – that’s when I can remember it from – it might be before then. I normally see a sports massage therapist for this every three weeks, however in January after having not seen her for a longer period of time, there was pain in my hip as well, which prompted her to refer me to a physio, who I only had a few sessions with before lockdown. So during lockdown, my back has got worse and worse, and after talking with my therapist about it, he pointed out that if I can’t stand for more than a few minutes to do the washing up, then that is absolutely a disability – so that’s something else that I’ve been sitting with, and confronting my own feelings on that, and coming to terms with that as well, over the last month or so.

Communication and Relationships
So another thing I’m going to start talking about more is communication and relationships, which is something that I have been exploring a lot recently. As I’ve already said, I am a member of the Queer community, however I also practice relationships in a different way to what is viewed as the norm. This is kind of the main thing that I’ve been kind of scared to talk about, as I know that there will be people who think that the way I practice relationships is wrong – but I’m here to tell you it’s not, and I hope that you know me, and want to listen to me.

So. I practice ethical non-monogamy. It’s also referred to as polyamory. There are so many different branches to this, and I’m still learning about it myself, and I’m undoing some of the monogamous mindsets that are presented to us in society as the only option. I know this is the right way for me to live, and I’ve been actively ethically non-monogamous for about a year now. As someone who is very open and honest on my social media, I wanted to tell you this now, and start talking about it, because I love sharing what my friends are doing, and I want to be able to share what my partners are doing. So…um. Yeah!

I know that’s a very brief overview of what ethical non-monogamy or polyamory is. I’m happy to answer questions, but please don’t bombard me with them. I will be sharing more over the coming months and years – it’s going to become a part of my social media basically, but if you do have any questions – for whatever reason – please do message me and ask me. I’d rather start a conversation than have you assume something. If it’s wanted I can maybe do a little “dispelling some myths” or something like that, but, there is a lot out there about ethical non-monogamy, and I think the really important thing that I want to say here is – one, it’s my personal life, and I’m choosing to share that, because I want people to know that there’s more than one option out there for them. Two, it’s all about communication and consent, so whilst I may have multiple partners, they are all different – they are all individuals – and they all mean something different to me – they all give something different to me, and they are all just as important as each other. I don’t want to go into this too much, because I am aware I have already made a very long video but …. I’m kinda babbling, because I’m a little bit scared to share this with you all, because I know how outside of the norm this is, and I’m really worried that people are going to judge me, and I just hope that you see that this doesn’t change who I am.

You may have noticed I’m kinda looking off – I do have notes – and I have gone completely off script now. Umm so yeah. So .. okay. So that’s…that section, I’ve said.

Raising others voices
I’m also going to be doing my best to raise up the voices of any other marginalised group of people basically, as I have been doing with the black lives matter movement, and I’m gonna continue to do.

Teach me
As an educator, I’m also always learning, and think that the best way for us to learn is to learn from each other. So if you have a subject that I’m not talking about that is important to you that you think I should know about – I want to hear it. I want to be educated as well so that I can learn and grow as a person, and I just want to open this platform – my social media – up to be a place for other people to grow too.

Recap and an insight into how I think
So. Some of the things that I’m sharing might be considered controversial. You may not understand some of them straight away. You may not even like them. You may disagree with me. It may change your opinon of me. Please know that I’m still me. The most important thing that I know about myself is that I believe everyone should be treated fairly, and as long as you’re not hurting another person or yourself, then you should do what makes you happy, and if you have a privilege, then you should use that to raise up people who are less privileged, for whatever reason.

For years I have held back on certain topics, because I felt they were inappropriate for a teacher to be talking about. Which saying outloud, sounds ridiculous. Why are there so many taboo subjects? Why are there so many subjects that people feel unable to talk about? By talking about these subjects, we’re not hurting people. In fact often talking about things others don’t know or understand, you’re helping others experience more of the world, and learn that it is so much bigger than the bubble they know.

Talk to me
I hold honesty really highly, and that’s why I’m doing this video – as a starting point for me to be even more authentic on this platform. I know I’ve said this several times in this video already but this is scary for me. I’m really scared of doing this – as a full time self employed person, I want to share more openly with you about me, but I’m also full time self employed. I know that some people won’t agree with some of the ways that I think, and that’s okay if you don’t agree, but what I ask is that you are compassionate. If you want to discuss things with me, you can discuss them with me, but please be calm and compassionate, as I will be towards you, and please respect my boundaries – respect the things that I’m saying, and how I feel, and I will respect you.

If you really feel like I’m wrong – because we all get things wrong sometimes – or if you feel like I haven’t understood an issue that I’m talking about completely, then please do come forward and explain your point of view to me. But equally, be prepared to listen to my point of view. I believe when you go into any conversation with anybody, you should be prepared that you might have your mind changed. That’s not to say that you should abandon your beliefs, and your morals, and your ethics. It’s to say that sometimes we get things wrong, because we are brought up in a society with so many issues that are taught that these are right, and this is the only way, but that’s not necessarily the truth.

My thoughts on the world right now
I think as a world we have the opportunity to go through a huge reset right now, and start to be more open and compassionate, and listen to other people’s viewpoints, and understand that just because they do things differently, that doesn’t make them the enemy – that doesn’t make them a bad person, that doesn’t make them a bad influence. It just shows us how incredible and diverse the world is. How lucky are we that we get to share this world with so many amazing different humans, who each bring something incredible to our lives, and teach us something different.

And that’s what I want to bring to my social media. Just another human, telling you about my life, and hoping that we can connect, and learn from each other.

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