Ripping Off the Multilingual Mask

by multilingualmania on August 4, 2010

in Bilingual Advocacy, Bilingualism, Personal Stories

We all wear masksWhen I first started this blog, I was initially worried about people finding out about my identity. I wanted a safe space where I could write about issues related to bilingualism and bilingual education without feeling that I would be retaliated against or looked down upon by people who I work with. Over the past year, I feel that I have put a muzzle on myself because I have been worried that people would find out who I am.

I can remember when one of my colleagues that I used to work with joined the Multilingual Mania facebook page. I practically had a meltdown and called one of our close friends to confess that I was worried that she would find out it was me. A couple of months later, she contacted me to have lunch and somewhere along the line she began to talk about resources on the internet and other related topics. I was convinced and nervous that she had found out my secret identity.

“You follow me on the internet, but you just don’t know it,” I hinted to her. She looked at me strangely. “It’s a blog”, I clarified.

Suddenly a little light went on in her head and she slowly asked, “Multilingual Mania?”

When I affirmed, she jumped up, hugging me and practically screaming that she loved to read my blog. I think that it would be an understatement to say that I was a bit overwhelmed with the situation.

Over the course of the past year, I have still remained hidden behind somewhat of a cloak of anonymity. I once began to put my real name on some of my posts that I had written, only to freak out later when I saw that someone had reached my blog after searching for my name. I then gained enough nerve a bit later to become an expert over on the Spanglishbaby blog and began telling my first name to people when they asked for it. Yet throughout it all I have still hid behind the Multilingual Mania name, afraid of judgement or criticism from peers or co-workers.

The truth is that it is not easy being a bilingual coordinator in a large school district, and it’s a highly politicized job where you are constantly knocked on the ground and kicked while you are down. In such a job I sometimes just want to curl up in a little ball and protect myself from the constant attack on bilingual education where I sometimes become a tangible target and scapegoat due what my job represents. So it makes perfect sense that I have hid myself online so that no one would have any more ammunition to use in their attacks against bilingual education where I indirectly (and sometimes directly) take the bullets.

At first I wanted a safe space where I could anonymously blog about my feelings about being in the field of bilingual education-the stress, the burnout, and all of the other trails and tribulations of standing up for something that is on constant attack. I didn’t want to state my name in fear that possibly one of my co-workers would find out who I was and would know what I was really thinking.

Or perhaps I have remained anonymous because I consider myself to be a servant leader, a person who believes that recognition is not as important as it is to serve other people. I often hear a voice in my head that says, “Don’t put your name on that post, you’re full of yourself. It doesn’t really matter if anyone knows who wrote it. What is important is that someone is reading it and maybe they are learning something from it”. It’s as if I have trained myself to be embarrassed from the hint of any type of recognition.

What ever the reason for my anonymity, I am sick and tired of it and can’t do it anymore. I need to be myself, and I am no longer going to be afraid to speak my mind and stand up for my beliefs.

I don’t care anymore if someone from work finds me online and reads what I am thinking because for the record this is my personal blog where I write on my own personal time and it does not represent my employers. I have a right to voice my own opinion and write about my life and thoughts. And frankly maybe some of the jerks that I have encountered throughout my life should think twice about the way that they treat other people before sooner or later someone writes about them on a personal blog.

So this is me-Melanie-and if you dig deep enough (or ask me personally), I will even tell you my last name. It is nice to finally meet you. Now maybe I can convince my other anonymous partner to come out of the shadows with me.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra August 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Dear Melanie, it is so nice to meet you. In the last year your blog has become an important resource for me; I read it regularly, checking it daily, looking through archives as I raise my two bilingual boys, myself a product of a bilingual environment. Thank you for your expertise, your insight, for sharing with us so that we may feel more confident in our bilingual ways, more bold in the way we assert our bilingual identities.
Bonne continuation et merci !!

multilingualmania August 4, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Thank you Alexandra! It means a lot to hear your thoughts! Sometimes I ask if anyone is even reading LOL!! I’m looking forward to getting to know you more!!

Corey Heller August 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

You go girl! I am so dang excited to see this post! Being split like you describe is so painful… one person here, another person there. It is like telling someone they can’t speak one of their languages. I’m so impressed with this post that I’m including this in this Sunday’s Week in Review… stay tuned!

MANY BIG HUGS! It’s an honor to be in your midst!!

Corey

multilingualmania August 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Thanks Corey, you have no idea how important your words are to me!!

Corey Heller August 5, 2010 at 1:38 pm

We’re all in this together! You inspire me, I inspire you, we inspire others, they inspire us back and the inspiration moves through the world like a healthy virus. I don’t think there is any other way that really counts and makes a real difference on a deep level.

You are true to your vision, that is what counts, and now so many people can thank you directly!

Isabeline August 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Well said Melanie! There are many of us who support you out here. Keep on writing!! Best, Isab.

Sivan August 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm

This is great! Congratulations! This is a big step forward and a true awakening for all of the bilingual community. Being bilingual and bicultural (or multilingual/multicultural) is a gift and an asset to society, not a burden. It is truly something to be admired. I am reposting this blog on our Prepaidcom facebook page and blog as a resource and guide of inspiration.

I invite your readers to check out our blog at prepago.prepaid.com and share their stories about being multicultural, hybrid individuals. :)

multilingualmania August 6, 2010 at 12:40 am

Thanks Isabeline! Thanks for reading and commenting!! xoxo

Dale May 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

A little pseudo-anonymity can provide you with just enough safe distance that you can talk about things that are relevant to your professional life without acting as a spokesperson for your employer. It’s true in any profession where there are controversial issues, even if the controversy is a polite and professional one. Even so, I’m glad that you don’t feel too constrained to remain in hiding.

Libby June 21, 2012 at 6:44 am

Ha! I can totally relate! I was mortified when a colleague told me in the lounge that she found my blog, in the LOUNGE! I was scared others would find out, terrified that others heard her, and embarrassed that real people I knew were reading what I wrote (nevermind that all my parents have access to my site). I’m a little braver now, I actually told 2 of my colleagues :) So glad I found your blog!

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