Tu es tres timide, I was told yet again. Have you thought about taking acting classes? Learning French made me awkward, vulnerable in my ignorance, and timid in starting conversations. I retreated and sounded like a toddler rather than an intelligent adult. In many ways, losing my voice while trying to speak French made me insecure about my voice in other areas.
It took some time, but I learned that I’m not defined by my foreign language skills. I do have thoughts and a voice and can contribute intelligently to conversations.
I’m also learning when it’s best to contribute my own voice, when it’s best to amplify the voices of others, and when it’s best to just be quiet. Not because I agree or disagree, but because it’s just not the time or place.
We’re in yet another time as a country when voices need to be heard; when we need to stop and listen; and when we need to recognize our own place in the conversation. In these moments, I recognize that my place is more often than not to listen, not to speak. To really hear the experiences of others.
Often, this means seeking out articles from a different point of view. Ideally, this means being quiet and letting my real-life friends speak. Sometimes, this means using the “hide” function on Facebook, recognizing that it’s not the time or place for debate.
I don’t feel as helpless as I did a few years ago, when I realized the privilege in choosing to speak or not. But I’m also learning that speaking is a privilege and my hope is that I use my voice to help and advocate, not to simply add to the noise.
How do you choose to use your voice? Have you ever wished you had been bolder?
Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “speak.”