There is a story told of the husband in his youth. Whenever family and friends would come round he would do his duty and he would come downstairs and sit with the company, however he would rarely say anything. One day when he was asked why he didn’t say anything his response was “I will speak when I have something important to say”. He’s still similar to a certain degree now, he’s not a fan of small talk, and would much prefer to be doing a job, but he’s getting better, in fact he is making it a goal of his.
I was about to write “I’m the opposite”, but I’m not entirely sure that is true either. When I’m with friends and family I can talk non-stop, although I’m also very happy to sit and listen. With strangers I’m not so good, although that is a strength of the husband.
I have a very loud voice. Give me a stage and I will happily talk in front of hundreds of people. My job is essentially talking, well that’s the bit I enjoy the most anyway. Give me a blog site and I will share my thoughts. Why then do I need to… Find a voice. Face a fear?
In my last blog post Expecto Patronum I explored why I enjoy worship, and get lost in worship, and I think it’s partly to do with the fact that the words are written. Whenever I speak to a group of people I will have my talk written out. I’ve tried bullet points but they don’t work, I forget my key points. I feel safe knowing I’ve got the entire thing written down in front of me. In my lessons I know my stuff, and essentially have a script in my head.
If I have the words, I have the confidence, I have a voice.
When I was at school I enjoyed my lessons, I especially enjoyed the discussions, even though I never took part in them myself. I liked to hear what other people wanted to say, I would listen to the variety of views, whilst quietly deciphering what I thought about the topic. Why didn’t I speak? The fear. I was afraid that I would be wrong. I was afraid that I would look like an idiot. I was afraid I would be ridiculed. Therefore it was easier to stay quiet. It may have been easier but I’m not sure it was beneficial.
Don’t worry I realise the irony that I now teach a subject where I actively encourage everyone to speak, and where I will often tell parents that their son/daughter would benefit from participating more. Although I do try to create an environment where they feel they have the strength to do so.
I am still the same today. I observe discussions on fb where people get irate and argumentative, but I never participate. I will talk with friends about frustrations and concerns I have in a variety of different contexts, when I am pretty certain that they share a similar view. Similarly I will share thoughts I have about improvements or new initiatives when I know that they are completely solid, the ones that are still in the process stay in my head. Well, the husband and E tend to be the only ones who hear everything! However, it is rare that I will actually share the concerns or ideas with those who can make a difference, or offer advice and guidance. Why? The thoughts going through my head tend to be
“what’s the point?”
“I’m probably wrong”
“it’s a stupid idea”
“other people have probably got more important concerns”
“what will I say if they question me?”
All of these things actually give a pretty strong message of how much, or little, I value myself, which is a whole other blog!
Over the last 3 months, when I have been stepping back I have really felt challenged about being a voice. Not just when I have a script, but when I might be going against the grain, when people might disagree with me, when I might be wrong. Not just when I’m in a group meeting, with the safety of others who I know are on a similar page, or when I’m being asked for feedback.
This is so daunting for me, it goes against everything I have ever done. I need to think about what it is im afraid of and work out how to address those fears. I need to learn from the husband. Currently my statement seems to be “I will speak UNLESS I have something important to say” and it needs to be “I will speak WHEN I have something important to say”.
I teach about inspirational people who risked their lives to be the voice that needed to be heard. Yet I seem to be unwilling to risk my reputation! Another starting point in the journey.