#rememberreminder: Speak Up
I remember like it was yesterday: I’d be sitting in school, diligently doing the task at hand—practicing my letters or numbers, writing answers to questions in a workbook, or reading and taking notes—when all of a sudden, the teacher would ask a question. Around me, dozens of hands would raise, ready to provide an answer, and there I would sit.
Silent. Frozen. Unable to lift my own hand from my desk.
That feeling of dread became worse as I got older, when teachers found it more interesting to just randomly call out a student’s name instead of waiting for hands to raise. Don’t call on me, don’t call on me, don’t call on me would play on repeat in my head like a broken record as I tried to make myself smaller in my seat; in my mind, the more I shrunk, the easier it would be to become invisible.
As I child, I was a perfectionist in every sense of the word (admittedly, I still am), so my fear of saying something wrong prevented me from speaking up in school. I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t smart enough or good enough or that I wasn’t the perfect student that I so very badly wanted to be.
Because of this, during the 16 years I spent in a classroom, I probably raised my hand only a handful of times. I rarely let my voice be heard.
And funny, when you do something long enough,
it eventually becomes a habit.
* * *
So when I found myself as an adult, navigating complex personal and professional relationships, that habit became quite useful as I became surrounded by people who didn’t even want me to raise my hand in the first place. Oh, and the answers I did give? Well, they were wrong. Even when they were right.
I quickly learned to avoid the inevitable conflict of speaking up by keeping my mouth shut and listening to that broken record again, playing another chorus, over and over in my head:
Don’t say anything, you’ll be sorry, you’ll just make things worse…
I lost my voice. I faded away. I became that little girl again, desperate to become invisible.
* * *
But thankfully, after too many years of this, I finally decided one day that I hated the way that keeping quiet made me feel.
And I came back to life.
So now, if I want to give an answer, I do. If I want to ask a question, I speak up. If I’m angry or hurt or confused or feeling uncomfortable, I say something. It might be really hard for me to do sometimes, but at least I’m making the effort. And as it turns out, when I speak my mind—even if there’s conflict involved—I end up feeling so much better.
It’s also really, really important for me to speak up: I have a daughter now, a little girl who wants to be like me in every way possible and models her behavior after mine. Because of this, I make an attempt every day now, in my actions and in my words, to teach her—and myself—that a life without a voice is not a life well lived.
We deserve to be seen. We deserve to be heard. We deserve to have our feelings be understood. Because in life, we shouldn’t just survive, we should thrive.
So today, remember to speak up. Let your voice be heard. Raise your hand, ask some questions, give some answers, and join in on the conversation. Don’t ever let your fears get in the way of letting yourself shine.
* * *
Talk to us: How will you speak up today? What will you do to let yourself be heard?
We post our Remember Reminder series on the blog here every Friday morning, as well as on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Just search the hashtag #rememberreminder to find us! And if you have any of your own post-it note Remember Reminders that we should know about, make your own and use the hashtag so we can share the love!
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.