- Kyla Mitsunaga
Dear Asian Sisters (+ All Sisters),
Reposted from Medium
To be honest, after the Atlanta shootings, I thought about writing this letter to the shooter, to our allies, or someone else? I struggled with whom this letter could be addressed to. In the shooting’s aftermath, hearing from many Asian sisters, who are friends, collaborators and quite frankly like blood sisters to me, I realized whom this letter really needed to be addressed to. Working WITH badass womxn all over the globe, whom I consider to be like blood sisters too, I thought this letter could be addressed to them and all sisters affected by six of our own Asian sisters being taken from us.
SPEAK INWARDS -> OUTWARDS
Believe me, it hasn’t always been easy for me to speak my truth. In fact, I spent most of my 38 years on this planet telling people what they wanted to hear. I got so darn good at it, it replaced my own true voice. It wasn’t until I published my first book, "WITH vs AT: Two Prepositions That Changed My Life," and my brother-in-law said to a family member, “It’s nice to see Kyla finally speaking her truth,” that I realized how much of my own voice had been silenced by my inner people pleaser. We’ve all got some inner critic, inner people pleaser, inner something who says, “Who are you to speak out?” But when we speak inwards WITH these inner voices, speaking outwards becomes just a little bit easier.
PUT YOURSELF ON THE COVER
I was pretty purposeful about putting a picture of myself on the cover of my first book. And not just any picture: a picture of me without make-up, one that reflected my personality, one that showed my double chin (something I’ve always been super self-conscious about, but this was a first step in accepting it). Moreover, on a macro level, I didn’t see a whole bunch of authors in the personal development industry who looked like me. It was time to change all that.
YOU DESERVE TO BE ON “STAGE”
After my TED@Seoul rehearsal went south, and like really south, I ended up crying on the streets of Gangnam in broad daylight. I called my good friend and Asian sister, MK, who said (and I will never forget her words), “You deserve to be on that stage. You were chosen for a reason. You have something important to say.” You will be happy to hear, MK certainly was, that I took her words to heart. And whenever I’m terrified of getting up on “stage” in front of a lot of people who don’t look like me or being the only one on “stage” who looks like me, I recall her words. Whether it’s a “stage” you’re facing or life, I think we could all save a little space for MK’s words in our hearts.
TRANSCEND FEAR FOR THE SISTERHOOD
We humans are hardwired to be paralyzed by fear. It’s a safety mechanism to “protect” us. But what if it isn’t about us? Bear with me for a second. When you transcend fear, self-doubt, or anything scary, you show others what is possible for THEM. This is based on a term in psychology: SELF-TRANSCENDENCE. Here’s an example. When I was about to release my first book out into the world, I was paralyzed by fear: What if no one reads it? What if people judge me? What if people make fun of me? The what-ifs fell on me like a stack of bricks burying me beneath them.
Right before one of my biggest in-person workshops ever (think 400 people), a young Korean woman came up to me clutching my book close to her heart and said, “I just wanted to say, I’ve never quite seen a book like this that talks about Korea or someone who looks like you on the cover.”
Drop the self-transcendence mic.
I SEE YOU. I HEAR YOU. I SUPPORT YOU.
Sister, you’re not alone. You never have been. There’s an entire sisterhood out there who wants you to write to them. There’s an entire sisterhood out there who can’t wait to see you speak inwards so they can hear you speak outwards WITH them. Their hearts are beating a little faster when they see you on the cover of a book, a magazine, on TV, or on a “stage.” And they’re inspired over and over again when they see you, hear you, support you transcending fear to speak your truth, because they can see what’s possible for them in you, dear sister.
I am part of that sisterhood and so are you.
I love you, sister.
Kyla, your fellow Asian sister
(Dedicated to Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, and Xiaojie Tan.)
Cover photo credit: Canva