It dawned on me today that I pretend I don’t know something in order to get out of not speaking, just in case someone counters what I have to say or asks me questions. I fear looking stupid to others because maybe I don’t ‘speak right’. I do struggle with pronouncing certain vowels, which I attempt to hide by speaking little or avoiding ‘big words’ with too many vowels. So, if someone asks me to elaborate on a topic, anxiety rises in me, and I choke up, stutter, and/or speak too fast. My thoughts either begin to race, and then my words are flipped around and what I wanted to say comes out jumbled, or too fast and I then have to repeat myself. I realized today this happens because as a kid I overheard my father telling my brother, “that’s stupid”. I was seven years old at the time. I, since then, have said to myself to watch what I say in case I say something ‘stupid’.
Seven years old was the age I became withdrawn. Maybe it was because I did not want to be stupid in front of others. I stopped raising my hand to answer or to ask questions in class in fear of being criticized. Thus, my grades dropped and I did not reach my full potential in school. I never felt I amounted to much in school, and I was (am) socially awkward. I was never encouraged by my parents at a young age, because they were too wrapped up in their own problems. My parents took my ‘mood swings’ and crying spells as a ‘phase’ I would grow out of. News flash, I never grew out of them. I learned over time to not voice my feelings or cry in front of others so I would not be misunderstood, ignored, or so I would not upset others. Thus, I learned to not speak ‘what I know’, and I learned to not speak about my feelings so I would not upset others, but most importantly, so I would not be misunderstood.
Depression set in at the age of 10. I had no way to express myself or understand my emotions. I thought something was wrong with me for a long time, and to be honest, I still feel this way. I had few friends in school, no boyfriends, and struggled in school because I did. Not. SPEAK. UP.
Like molasses, I slowly begin to come out of myself and speak out once I began attending college courses, because I am now an ADULT. AND THAT scared the sh!t out of me. I knew I had to change. Slowly I spoke more to others. Slowly I spoke up in my classes. I began my ‘spirit journey’ to find myself at age 17. I feel that was/is a journey to find my voice.
I feel, at age 26, my voice has been found. I have accepted my so-called ‘social awkwardness’, and I have learned to laugh at myself.
I wrote this article in relation to my Social Work career. I am finally ready to take the risk to face my fear of failure or ‘stupidity’. I am finally ready to say, “here I am, what can I do for you?” with confidence that I have the skills and ability to help. I am smart. I can speak well, and I do not need to be an expert. I can finally say I am ok with myself, and I notice my strengths such as: my empathetic nature, observation and analytical skills, and my creativity to think outside the box. I am learning to think critically.
Finally, I understand the beauty of ME, and that is a freeing thing. I am perfectly imperfect, and awkwardly… awkward? And I am ok with that.
Peace and love <3
Author Bio: ~When a quiet individual speaks, their voice is loud ~
The voice of the spirit is as loud as the whisper in the wind, breath upon the skin, and as delicate as a feather in the wind. The quiet voice is loud, and speaks the truth within you. Let it speak through you, and let it be what it will be. There is no rhythm, rhyme, or reason. The voice of the spirit is felt rather than heard, and when it is heard it is through your own words or way of expression.
Speak those quiet words, in any form you wish; through art, verbally, in any way. Let it be and you will see what you are capable of.
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