Words are powerful / by Tia Keobounpheng

“To have a voice and to know your voice are two different things” - Tia Keo

“To have a voice and to know your voice are two different things” - Tia Keo

The words we use are powerful, particularly those we use to describe (and think about) ourselves. More about that soon when I share more about my words that were published in Make MN magazine.

As I continue to reflect on 2018 I cannot help but feel grateful that I allowed myself time to write. At the beginning of 2018 I spent months laboring over (two grant applications and) multiple-pages of writing for a fellowship application. It was/is the most demanding application I have ever filled out, and I have heard from more experienced artists who have said it was unlike anything they’d encountered before. They asked deep, open-ended questions that are more inline with the way (and the why) artists work. I actually felt honored to engage them because no other source of artist funding I’ve encountered comes at it that way. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true.

My dear friend and coach told me that “the experience of writing the application needs to be enough for you” - and in the beginning I nodded in the way we do before we learn the lesson. Even after submitting the application I hadn’t learned the lesson she was talking about, but as I moved through the year and approached the opportunities that were tangibly in front of me, all of the digging and churning, writing and considering, editing and rewriting, and the ultimate making sense of myself surfaced. I had my why. I had my purpose tucked right inside my head and wrapped right around my heart. Words did that for me. My labored words gave clarity to my vision and my direction. The experience of writing the application was enough for me to continue forward no matter what.

Now, they still haven’t announced the recipients of the fellowship - probably won’t for several more months - so I still have hope that I can reap the value and the support that this fellowship would bring. But in the meantime, I am looking back to some of the words that inspired me in the last year, as well as some of the words I was inspired to pen that I have shared up below. Thanks for reading!