The greater the fear, the more important the words.
I’ve missed opportunities. I’ve stayed longer in places where I’ve been unhappy than I should have. I have allowed myself to be treated in a manner I didn’t deserve or was unjust.
All of this happened for the same reason. I didn’t say what I needed to say.
If you have something to say and are afraid to say, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach is every single bit of your being giving you the signal that you need to say those words.
Fear is what makes us nervous and holds us back. The fear stems from knowing that what we are about to say is going to make someone else uncomfortable. The problem is that while we hold our words to spare someone else discomfort, we sit with our discomfort instead.
There is no one that we have more of an obligation to than ourselves. We should move through life being as kind and empathetic as we can but that doesn’t mean that speaking up is an act of aggression. It’s simply standing our ground when we need to. It creates this beautiful thing we call boundaries.
Hard things need to be said when they are honest and deeply felt. When we can’t say them, they eat away at us because somewhere inside of us we also know that they need to be heard.
The worst words I ever had to speak was asking my second husband for a divorce. It was painful and gut-wrenching. I sat with those words on the end of my tongue for weeks knowing they needed to come out but the mere thought of what would happen the moment they did paralyzed me. My life would be forever changed and so would his.
Every dream I had of what the rest of my life was supposed to look life would vanish in front of me. It was the point of no return.
When I let the words come out, there was relief. It didn’t come from knowing I had come to the right decision in my life, it was from having the courage to be able to do something about it.
Courage without a voice turns quickly back into cowardice.
A few years ago, I found myself at a point in my career where I felt it was in my best interest to be seen and not heard. When I spoke up, I was reminded that my job was on the line and I should tread lightly.
I spent days biting my tongue so hard I thought it would bleed. After all was said and done, my company lost the contract I was working on despite everything I thought would save it. I lost the job I tried to protect with my silence.
I walked away with one of the greatest lessons of my life. My voice is no less important than anyone else’s. It’s wholly mine and my greatest potential as a human being lies in my ability and willingness to use it. The second part of that sentence is the most difficult. The willingness.
I had been unwilling because I was afraid of how I would be judged if I said what I needed to. I didn’t want my words to be misconstrued or perceived as me being difficult. So instead, I chose to be complicit. That, however, was not how I wanted to be perceived either.
There are repercussions to our words. What we have to balance is whether those consequences are so horrible that we can’t possibly suffer through the reaction to our voice.
Staying silent carries the same consequence every single time and it’s monumental. We lose a bit of ourselves. We carve away that small part of us that we know is valid. We jeopardize our own well-being to save ourselves from doing hard things that come as a result of our words.
This comes full circle back to fear. It’s not the fear of saying something that we struggle with. It’s what comes next. There is one thing I know for certain: you will figure out the what’s next. It may seem an Everest size mountain to climb but if you have the strength to say the thing that puts you at the base of that mountain, I promise you have the strength to climb it.
Choose your words carefully but let them be yours. Own them. Use them. Say what you need to work through the rest. It’s how you keep yourself whole.