Learning to Grow (& speaking up)

Learning to Grow (& speaking up)

When I was in my 2nd year of high school, one of my media shop teachers did an activity where we all sat at a round table and he went one by one and told us what he perceived to be our “fatal flaw”. In my life, there have been a handful of memories that really stand out — defining moments if you will — and this particular memory is one of them.

My fatal flaw was: I’m afraid to speak up.

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It wouldn’t take a genius to make this assumption about me. I was a quiet student, a somewhat broody teen, and to be honest whether the outside world saw it or not, I was really just trying to survive each day. I wasn’t exactly one of those teenagers who cared about grades (I found my senior report card the other day…yikes) or had many career goals or dreams that I wanted to achieve. I had ideas that sounded permissible on paper for goals essays and whatnot, but deep down I couldn’t see far past the next few days. I wasn’t sure where I was trying to go in life, and I was honestly afraid to have concrete goals. I had a fear of self-sabotaging and letting myself down. Which I’ll admit is a pattern in my life that I do struggle with. After high school, I did end up going to community college because it felt like the “next step”, but I wound up dropping out after two semesters because it became apparent that more schooling was not the path I was meant to be on at the time.

But what my teacher said? It was not just a lucky assumption. It was true. I certainly did not speak up often. It made me anxious and it felt scary. I think that the “fatal flaw” activity was the first time I was ever truly confronted with the reality that my silence could be a bad thing. My quietness wasn’t being praised here as it had been by many other adults in my life up until that point. Instead, a teacher, who I respected, was telling me point blank that my fear of speaking up could be what will hold me back in life.
And he wasn’t wrong.

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I’ve had two long term jobs in my life. The first was a horrible temporary assignment that lasted nearly 2 years where I literally allowed people to be rude to me and put me down – from casual employees to the actual CEO of the company! If you’re wondering how this was possible, well, I was a receptionist. I learned quickly that when you’re the “messenger” for someone you tend to catch a lot of heat for things you have no control of. And I took it. I hated it with every fiber of my being but I took it because I didn’t know how to speak up for myself. At this point in my life, I was still literally petrified to speak up for myself. I finally got the gall to quit that job when I began having heart palpitations every morning when I got to work. I was literally shaking when I had to turn in my letter of resignation. But walking out on my last day was one of the best feelings of my life.

My second long term job was a completely different experience. I worked as a secretary at a long term care facility. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I was surrounded by really sweet people in my office. I didn’t have a lot in common with them because they were all quite a bit older than me, however, they all treated me with respect and I was the “office baby”. But my fear of speaking up still held me back. I realize now that I wasn’t simply introverted but also extremely anxious about socializing and it all kind of contributed to that fatal flaw of not being able to speak up. There were many times where my coworkers in the office would be having a group conversation that I knew I could be apart of. I knew I could contribute. I wanted to!

But I was too afraid to speak up. So I wouldn’t.

I truly loved working at the longterm care facility. But I lacked the ability to make many genuine connections with my coworkers because of my inability to speak up. I knew I wasn’t uninterested in talking to others, I was just too nervous to and I’m still trying to understand why I struggle with this. Thankfully I was fortunate to have had a few co-workers who took me under their wing and sort of understood me and who never treated me as “that shy girl”. I’m so thankful for people like them.

I’ll be honest and say I haven’t really gotten down to the root cause of my fear of speaking up but I have taken some steps to work on it.

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This blog is one way that I’m working on it. I understand that it could seem like it is easier to talk to others on the internet where you don’t have the face to face experience. But, this is not entirely true. It’s a little less difficult for me, but it still isn’t easy. I have been able to use this platform to share things with you, my readers, that in the past I may have been too nervous to talk about. It has taken a lot of soul-searching to get to this point but I know this is something I am supposed to do because it always ultimately feels right. The fact that I have had even one post that has caused someone to reach out and thank me for talking about a certain topic is enough for me to know this is what I am supposed to be doing.

This is not to say that there hasn’t been a post or two where after I post it I have a mild panic about if I should’ve posted it. It can make you feel kind of naked in a sense. But that feeling quickly vanishes because I know that all the things I’ve shared that have been tough to share – were meant to be shared. I want to help people. I can only do that by being honest and speaking my truth. Truths, that others may feel they are alone in feeling. I want people to know they aren’t alone.

When I speak up, I feel good. We all have our own power within us, and sometimes it takes time to figure out how to access it and what to use it for. Myself personally, I’ve learned that I have to be brave enough to speak up in order to use mine. I’m sharing my experiences and if I can encourage even one person to do the same, it was worth it. It definitely feels better than staying silent when I know I have something to say.

 It can be scary to examine ourselves, to look at our behaviors and recognize our flaws. But it’s important. It’s the only way we can grow.

There are a lot of things I’m working on right now. I’m sure there are things you’re working on too. But the fact that we are choosing to examine ourselves, and recognize that we all need a little help,  a little reparenting, and a little grace — that is what growing to our greatest potential is all about. It is a choice to recognize that we all have work to do and that the work is worth it.  At times it will be scary, and messy and ignite feelings of fear but facing those feelings and insecurities, giving yourself the help you need, allowing yourself to grow into the best possible version of you — it is worth it. You deserve it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, it is always worth it to invest in yourself. It is essential. You are worth the work and you are worth being here on this Earth.

Thank you for reading ❤

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Sending love and light,

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3 thoughts on “Learning to Grow (& speaking up)

  1. I love this, mainly because I am also like this. Even now that I have ‘a backbone’ which I think grew out of being a mama, I will avoid speaking up for myself at all costs. So yeah, definitely found this helpful ❤️

    1. I’m glad this post is helpful ❤️ and isn’t it interesting how becoming a mom gives us some of that backbone almost instantly??

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