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Different Words to Different Worlds—by Emilia Suviala

I am a writer and my primary language is Finnish. For the past six years that I have been living in the US, I have been struggling to share my work with my new community of friends and colleagues. So, slowly and laboriously, I have started to express myself in English. First, I tried to resist. The idea of me being a writer in English felt impossible. No way I am able to find the right words and sentences without understanding all the nuances and social conventions they carry. How could I express my inner world with this narrow vocabulary? With these basic sentences? I felt like a baby learning to speak again. But since the words are my way to connect with the world, I didn't see any other option than to give it a try. Even at the risk of being misunderstood, or being laughed at. The way I express myself in English doesn't translate to the way I express myself in Finnish. It feels like I am using a different part of my body, or a different part of my brain. The change in language switches something in me too, some other part long hiding becomes visible. Even though through practice I have developed my skills, I still feel that I need to compromise. But a compromise is not always a bad thing, if it gives me a possibility to find new things. Somehow the struggle with the restrictions have led me to open a door I didn't know existed. One day, not so long ago, the words just came to me. Sitting at the kitchen table, just before I needed to go and pick up my son from school. Like someone was uttering the words in my ear. I wrote the sentences down in a hurry. Rarely, anything like this happens. The sentences were funny, and at the same time they touched something deep and profound in me. The words felt right. I call my project: Self Help Box, Conceptual Instructions for Creativity and Mental Health, and it is now launched on Instagram. I am pretty sure that the project wouldn't exist had I been continuing to write exclusively in Finnish. I am happy that I had the courage to step on the threshold. Creativity and mental health are the two sides of the coin, and fundamentally, the starting point for both is in connection. You cannot achieve either of them with your doors closed.

*Check out Self Help Box, Conceptual Instructions for Creativity and Mental Health here:

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