Wise or wounding, words have power over those we love

''That's me in the corner

That's me in the spotlight

Losing my religion.''

The immortal words of R.E.M were the soundtrack of my teenage years. Instead of a regular teenage rebellion involving sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, I defied my parents by reading feminist literature, blaring AC/DC from my room, and refusing to go to church.

It was a tense time in my household, and I was threatened with eviction numerous times. But hey, what teenager doesn't go through an angry, resentful stage?

Now that I've left home, things are a little different. If anything, I've become more outspoken about my views and lack of interest in church and Christianity.

While the spats are less vociferous and heated, I'm still aware that my writing and activism upsets my parents (and at times my siblings). But I firmly believe that it's important that I speak up for myself. There's a certain freedom that accompanies setting a pen to paper and letting all my anger and frustration flow out.

When I first began writing about growing up in a fundamentalist household, I let my fury and indignation leak out of every word I wrote. I viciously attacked people. I was arrogant, angry and sick of being ignored. I berated my parents for enrolling me in a subpar homeschooling curriculum, for not seriously addressing my depression, and for letting me attend church camps where I grew to hate my body.

I understand now that they did all of this out of love (albeit misguided). Since then, I've tried to make my words less cutting and visceral. But I still have the obligation to challenge certain ideals I was taught, especially as these beliefs have the potential to harm others beside myself.

Over the last five years, I've begun to realise how truly senseless the world can be. My childhood was relatively safe and loving, but life became increasingly nonsensical and difficult later on.

I've seen friends and loved ones struggle with mental health issues, too scared to ask for help. I've walked past countless homeless people on the sidewalks of Berlin, Paris and Edinburgh.

Instinctively I think of praying for them - instead of offering them material help. It's a reflex, a comforting mental mantra that eases my own discomfort.

It's not enough. I believe that in the face of social injustice, poverty and suffering, we should kick up a fuss and make some noise. We need to prove through our words and actions that change can happen. Prayers and silent complicity are not the way forward.

It's an awful thing to know that my writing upsets the people I love most in the world. But I also know that my ideas, opinions and beliefs help people, or at the very least, entertain them. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it's certainly a double-edged weapon. Wield your words with care.

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