I don't know about you but this is one of the things, or three of the things that I've struggled with a lot. I never thought much of it before this year. I was proud to be in the background. Frustrated at times, when I would be working on a group project and I would say something and no one acknowledged what I said, or really the fact that I had even opened my mouth and then one of the "cool people" in the group said the same thing and it was all of the sudden, "THE BEST IDEA EVER!" Occasionally the person beside me would say, "didn't you just say that?" Yes, I did... but hat's ok. I learned not to take offense. I figure it's one of those things where you hear it a couple times and then all of the sudden you actually hear what's been said. Only because now you've heard it a few times, and now your subconscious thinks that it must be a good idea, unaware that you've actually heard it a couple times before.
Why is being seen and heard so hard? To dress, act, and behave as your "authentic self." To speak up. Why, when we get a compliment do we turn it down even as it's coming out of the other persons mouth. I want to know that I've been of value but when someone tells me I am, I shut it down and push it away. I might hold space for it but heaven forbidden I accept it. There are endless articles about how this has been engrained in women. From what I have noticed in history classes, various books, and observed in North American society, is that men suffer from this too. Few people, if any, are exempt. There are plenty of women and men who have stood against the "societal rules." We're then told that we should stand up, speak up, and accept compliments. And yet, why does it hurt so much to try and do this? I remember being a little girl and I never felt ashamed of who I was. I never felt like I couldn't speak my mind. I felt appreciated for who I was. I'm not really sure when that changed. There were moments throughout and after high school where I felt like theses societal rules didn't apply. Yet, I think they probably did to some extent. I just wanted to believe that they didn't apply because I was a strong and independent human. Where I used to speak up, at some point in the last 5 years, that changed. Unless it was incredibly calculated. It's recently been pointed out that I self-edit, A LOT. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I continue to observe, but I've progressively said less. It may be, that I learned where to invest my energy and where to withdraw. On occasion, I do fear the consequence of saying something wrong or politically incorrect. Why? I care. Just because I care about others shouldn't mean that I fear making a mistake. I believe it's important to be mindful, to have integrity, and to treat others with respect. I also believe that life is too short to fear mistakes. We are going to make mistakes no matter how hard we try to avoid them. We may even make more mistakes, if that's what we're focused on. Admitting that we don't know something and asking to be informed sounds like a more healthy option to me.
At the end of the day, I would love to see us all as our authentic selves. Safe to be seen, heard, and appreciated. I honestly believe that if we all felt safe to be ourselves, we would be more respectful towards others. I grew up with the image of people from around the world, happily holding hands, literally placed in a circle around the globe. I don't say that to say that we sit by a fire singing Kumbaya. You don't have to like or agree with me or anyone else. However each of us have the right to have our safe space to live our best lives. Think of how you would feel, if you had a safe space. Now think of how that would impact the millions of people who live in fear. The people who don't feel safe to be who they are, where they live or when they travel. I hope that one day, those of us that are in a safe space, that we can give ourselves permission to take the steps to live as our authentic selves. As safe places expand, more people will be engulfed by those safe spaces and will hopefully be able to give themselves permission to live as their authentic self. Ideally that would continue until it's spread around the world. I hope that we can create safe spaces by having conversations with curiosity opposed to judgment and with open hearts opposed to fear-clouded minds.