I went on vacation to Jamaica recently. We went on an excursion to Dunn's River Falls. I legit hiked a waterfall and it was amazing and I highly recommend going if you go to Jamaica. It's in Ocho Rios, a decent drive from the resort and you take an excursion bus there.
Our driver's name was Steve Palmer and in addition to driving us 1.5 hours to the falls he also acted as our guide, pointing out sites and providing facts and information about the island (goats=Jamaican reindeer, China owns many things on the island, etc...). At the beginning of the trip he said he didn't want any shy passengers. There were about 15 of us and we all sort of mumbled in agreement.
Steve was asking everyone trivia questions about the island. I answered one and got it right. [What is the capital of Jamaica? Kingston] I noticed there weren't many others shouting out answers either (whether from lack of knowledge or shyness who can say?). He asked another question and I knew the answer but I didn't say anything. My answer was correct but why didn't I speak up? I didn't have anything to lose. We weren't playing for a prize. I had already gotten one question right, why did I stop in my tracks at this one?
At that moment, I found myself asking:
Why do we hold back from who we are?
Why do we stifle our voices?
Why do we doubt who we are and what we know?
Why do we douse our fire, dampen our spark, and let self doubt dull our sparkle?
Are we so afraid of being wrong or rejected that we deny our true selves?
What's the worst thing that could happen if we speak our truth? We are wrong. We are denied. We are rejected. We are afraid of judgements that we're dumb, smart, ignorant or arrogant.
Who are those people to you that would deny you and keep you small? Others trying to assert themselves just like you. And guess what? What other people think of you is none of your business.
Holding back and trapping ourselves in our minds is not only unhealthy but detrimental to our lives and relationships. We cannot have a loving relationship with ourselves and others if we are not living our authentic lives and speaking our truth with every word.
Yes it's scary being vulnerable. But the risk of staying small is too great; the side effect too harmful.
It reminds me of the character Credence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. *Spoilers* Towards the end of the movie, the audience learns that the beast wreaking havoc on 1926 New York City isn't a beast at all. It's a boy who was emotionally, verbally, psychologically, physically, and okay magically oppressed for his whole life. Credence turned into an Obscurial, a person that developed a dark parasitic energetic force bent on chaos. The destruction wrought on the city brought on my the manifestation of the Obscurus is dramatic and fictional but the allegory is very relevant to our lives.
The suppression of our voice and true selves can lead to severe depression, extreme introversion, and a fear based life. Those things sound a lot worse to me than worrying about someone else's judgement of me.
Mine is a small example of holding back but if we're not willing to speak up about the small things, how can we possibly hope to speak up about the bigger things?
Historically, I wasn't one to speak up. Speaking up caused confrontation. Stating my truth got my feelings hurt. The story I gleaned from experiences in my youth was NOT to speak up. Stay quiet and in the background. Maybe no one will notice you or judge you or argue with you or say mean things.
That was the story I had been telling myself for years. Perhaps you find parallels in your own story. One of the great things about recognizing our story is also realizing that we have the power to change it. I have been working hard over the past few years to learn how to speak my truth with light and love and authenticity. That's part of my mission here, in life and this blog: to be a channel for self expression and compassion in order to uplift and heal others.
When we stifle our voices, it's not only us that loses: it's the world. The world needs us. The world needs you and your voice. Don't stay small. Don't let self doubt and Ego convince you that you are anything but *MAGIC*. Shout out loud that you are here to be seen and heard. Someone out there needs the knowledge that you have and the wisdom from your experiences.
We cannot let a lack of confidence guide us. Rather, hold a steadfast and solid BELIEF that our authentic selves and voices are powerful, creative, and beautiful.
Only you can tell your story.
So I'd like to thank Steve Palmer, for helping me to realize that I was holding back my voice and that it had been hurting me for a long time.
I'm grateful to J.K. Rowling too, for the Obscurus metaphor, magic, and generally kicking ass. (Talk about not speaking your truth for fear of rejection.....she chose to use J.K. in order to avoid gender bias). Despite the somewhat necessary denial of her full first name, Joanna , J.K. continues to be one of the most influential and empowering women in the world.
Oh, and the question that I knew but didn't answer was: what is the most popular rum in Jamaica? It's Wray & Nephew and delicious.
I see you. I hear you.