Updated: Sep 22, 2019
Your voice is heard almost immediately when you are born. You enter this world, and you quickly let everyone know you have arrived. It is what alerts people to your needs. Parents know when you are hungry, wet, tired, need to burp, and see when you are just plain unhappy. Parents impatiently wait for your first words and are emotionally overwhelmed when they finally hear "mama" or "dada." Your voice is powerful. It can elicit a plethora of emotions in others. If this is such an incredible tool to communicate our needs and wants, as well as to connect to others, why do we silence our voice?
Somewhere along the way in my life, I decided my voice was better silent. I am not sure if there was a defining moment when I made the decision or if it was repeated experiences that reaffirmed that staying quiet, flying under the radar, and remaining in the background was the safest way for me to go through life. There were instances when my brothers overpowered my voice. There were times I instinctively knew I needed to keep quiet when I was young. There was also the time I was mortified and made fun of in class when I mispronounced "muscles" while doing a round-robin reading in class. Were these enough to create a belief in me that has lasted for almost 40 years? As I reflect on this, I wonder if the "why" matters much, or if the real question is "so what now?"
I was recently talking with someone and sharing that I feel most comfortable remaining in the background and flying low and he confronted me with the bold and unnerving question, "so what are you teaching your daughters?" I immediately teared up and began to cry uncontrollably as I reflected on the implications of my behavior and choices on my daughters. Being quiet and remaining in the background isn't a bad thing or anything to be ashamed of, and that wasn't the issue. What I realized is that my quiet nature and desire to be seen and not heard was born out of a belief that I wasn't worthy of my voice and that what I had to say wasn't valuable. This realization is what struck me when I thought about my daughters. I want my daughters to know they are worthy, and their voices are powerful and valuable.
I can already see myself in my oldest daughter. She is quiet, internal, and she stuffs everything down. She is compliant and has figured out the rules of the game and plays them well. I watch her watch life, carefully deciding what is worth the risk, and most of the time, the risk is too high. It keeps her from the laughter, love, and greatness that life has to offer. It is the beginnings of what I have chosen for the last 40 years. I know the pain, disappointment, inadequacy, and suffering that comes from never venturing out and remaining in a bubble of self-doubt, lack of confidence, and negative self talk.
I decided at an early age that it was safer to sit in the stadium seats and watch the game of my life play out before me than it was to get on that field and play it myself. At nearly 45 years old, I have decided to start living my life. I am all in, and when I am tempted to join the stands for safe viewing, I will remind myself of my daughter and the role I play in modeling living life and loving life. Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life says, “We only get to be in our bodies for a limited time, why not celebrate the journey instead of merely riding it out until it's over?" I am ready to start celebrating life! My voice is powerful, my life has meaning, and I am worthy. These posts serve as an opportunity to share my life, my love, and my messages to my daughters.