Three reasons to use your voice even if you are afraid you sound stupid
To be perfectly honest, sometimes I worry that what I write about just sounds stupid to other people, especially when I am having fun writing (ouch). But I really like what author Shauna Niequist asks: What do you love even though no one else does?
I love sassy ladies, silliness, and art--high, low and everything in between. I love dogs. I love speaking candidly with friends about periods and poop.
I could focus on cooler interests: being outdoorsy or building our house. I value those things but they are not the stuff of my everyday imagination or my actual personality.
I comfort myself with the thought that no matter what I really love, there is someone else who thinks that is stupid.
And even if there wasn’t, I would think there is. So if I really was the cooler person I think I should be, I would probably still think I should be cooler. I might as well accept the real me.
Also, it's completely irrelevant. There is no Olympics of human coolness we are competing in. I know it seems like it, with the Instagram and whatnot. "Build your personal brand." Barf. In a world of 7 billion people (and rising), it's ridiculous and exhausting to try to be heard above the fray.
There really is no gold medal of coolness to win. Yes, maybe you could make money off your coolness, but if it’s not really you, you are doing all that just for money. That’s the same thing you can get by working a totally not-cool job.
It’s not worth it to me to sacrifice authenticity for money. The things that really have value cannot be won in competition with others. They are found in connection with others, and in deep connection to your essential self, and to the universe.
You might be thinking, “Okay, I get that. But why would you be uncool so publicly? Why would you write it down and post it on the Internet for all the world to see and judge??”
I had to reckon with this question when an acquaintance asked me to coffee to talk about my blog. I knew her from my brief stint as a tech-industry career-gal, so I was honestly confused that this smart, successful professional woman felt she had anything to learn from me. Sometimes it’s not just my blog but my whole life that feels really embarrassing. (The way my inner critic would introduce myself to you is this: “Hi, I’m Amber. I am a 30-something dog-walker, artist-wanna-be who lives with her in-laws.”)
When we met up, her question was: “How do you get the guts to publish blog posts?” She had written several posts of her own but was afraid that anything she had to say had already been said before and probably been said better by someone with more expertise.
In that moment, I realized that even though I still don’t have a career, or a house, I have something many people never get: the courage to use my voice.
This courage is not natural to me. I earned it through a lot of hard work and growth. And I told her, as I tell you now, three reasons I whole-heartedly believe that I deserve to use my voice. No matter how vulnerable, silly or stupid I feel, these three things always wake me up to my ability to speak.
The first one is this: Not everyone has the privilege of having a public voice. I do.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert says if you feel scared to speak, think of all your female ancestors who never had a public voice. What would they say to you about the opportunities that you have? Write yourself a letter from them.
I’ll let you try it for yourself, but suffice to say, that letter is powerful.
The second one is this: You have to at least have the arrogance of belonging. You are here, so you get to say something.
This idea also comes from Elizabeth Gilbert from her book Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear. It seems radical but is very simple: you exist, so you belong. The answer to the belittling question, “Who do I think I am??” is: “A member of this planet. A constituent of this universe. A living person, who is therefore entitled to express my experience.”
The third reason is this: We need repetition.
We get toxic messages all day, every day. We need to say healthy things to each other over and over again to even begin to counteract the poison. We all need reinforcement. YES, it’s true that what you have to say has probably already been said before, and said better, by someone with more expertise (like Elizabeth Gilbert). AND—and: It is also true that your voice, your outlet, your style, might be the only one that reaches a specific person. So, please, for all of our sake, say it!
For these reasons, I will continue to write as me, as uncool and stupid as I feel at times. I will continue to be brave. I hope you will write, paint, dance, sing, create, speak as YOU. I can’t wait to hear your voice.