The Stories We Tell Ourselves workshop was part of our Migrant Literature Festival 2023.
The workshop was all about how the narratives in your head live on paper, exploring different techniques to draw out thoughts and emotions through writing — in the process discovering the ways they can shape the stories they tell themselves and others.
It was a busy Sunday morning on October 8, 2023 at Sing Lit Station. This day marked a joint MWS Migrant Literature Day and Mental Health Festival held together for the first time. I came early to prepare the venue and helped to set up everything as the host of the said event. Everyone was busy doing their assigned errands; on one side, Sir Theo and sis Nhelz doing an interview, on the other side me and Jane fixing and figuring out to how to put all the photo frames and poems up for the festival.
Meanwhile one lady came with a bright smile and a shy gesture and greeted us good morning and asking if she can help as she saw we were very busy – we even blocked the way entering the workshop room. We realised eventually that this lady who arrived first for the workshop is the facilitator herself, Xiangyun! 🤣 We were all ashamed to mistake her as a participant.
Participants started to come and we got ready to open up the festival. I started to greet everyone and tell them about the workshop and introduce our facilatator. The workshop started with introducing ourselves to each other, followed by a discussion on mental health issues, the reasons behind those issues, and how we can seek help.
There was a sharing session where the facilitator asked us to reflect on ourselves: what we were feeling that day and what we wanted to share, like some things that we felt too heavy to carry and felt comfortable to share.
The sharing started and the emotions begun to emerge! Different deep emotions filled the room. The silence was deafening and tears began to pour out. Hearing different unexpected stories from others made me feel anxious and at the same time overwhelmed.
A participant shared: “I feel brave now and have the courage to let go what I feared of.”
After sharing what’s inside of us and what we felt, the facilitator asked us to write to ourselves or what we wanted to hear.
Here are some messages that were shared:
“I feel alone, like why I can’t help others easily but not myself?”
“Be patient, don’t rush, everything has a right time.”
“You are the bravest person I’ve ever met, you are a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul.”
“Nobody sees how beautiful you are but yourself, grateful for her body for where she is today, thanking all things around her.”
This workshop is very momentous for all of us. Heartrending and tearjerking! Overall I’ve learned that we should look up for ourselves first in order for us to be able to help others. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is important for us to be productive and well functioning in whatever we do!
Once again thank you Migrant Writers for organizing this workshop, to Xiangyun Lim who facilitated, and Sing Lit Station for the utmost support.