“Speak your truth, no matter if your voice shakes.” Enough said. Okay maybe I could say a little bit more about it. Standing in your truth is a cute catchphrase that we hear often. But what does it mean? Does it mean if your “truth” is harsh, you can say it regardless of who you hurt? Arguably, no. There are so many people who know me that are reading this right now like “Whatchu talking bout Willis?” Bear with me ok.
I have a tendency to say what I am thinking regardless of how the recipient may take it. I may have already shared that my test is simply, is what I going to say true? If the answer is yes, then I ask, is what I am going to say funny? If the answer to that question is yes, then I say it. If you knew me before I turned 30, you would have met a completely different person. I felt that I had to be silent as not to upset the status quo. I believed that what I had to say, that my truth, was not valuable.
How many of you look back and see lost opportunities to let your voice be heard; lost opportunities to stand in your truth? Can you see my hand raised? Well, you should. My earliest memory is in elementary school, when we were working on a group project. I knew that what we were doing was not following the teacher’s instructions, but being shy and not wanting to call attention to myself, I went with the flow. This ultimately resulted in us earning a low grade on the assignment. Back then grades meant everything to me. Ok, they still do , ask my poor son! Grades were the one area in which I could excel. So earning that low grade was disastrous to me. I wish I could end this story by saying that receiving that low grade made me start talking more and letting my voice be heard. Alas I cannot.
Surprisingly, another memory following the theme is from the fifth grade. Music and singing have always been great loves of mine. Four of us decided to enter the school’s talent show and sing Whitney Houston’s, Greatest Love of All. Yep Whitney. Houston. All names have been changed to protect the innocent. So Samantha and I were going to sing, Farrah was going to do American Sign Language, and Natalie was going to play the piano. We practiced for weeks. I was extremely nervous but wanted to be a part of the group and I wanted to sing, so I practiced and practiced every chance I got. I am positive that my family experiences PTSD every time they hear that song.
Back to the story… so we practiced and planned our outfits (light pink sweaters and black skirts) and We. Were. Ready! The day of the talent show arrived and we were abuzz with excitement during the school day. We talked about our performance and planned to meet early to get in one last practice. Now cut to the evening of the talent show. Farrah was there on time and dressed. Natalie was there on time and dressed. I was there on time and dressed. There was no sign of Samantha. As we waited for her, we missed our last opportunity to practice. Trying to reassure ourselves, we acknowledged that we have practiced enough and that we were ready to make our debut.
As the minutes ticked away and our turn on stage fast approached, still no Samantha. I began to hyperventilate and cry. We couldn’t go on without her! What I really meant was I could not go on without her. Oh no! People would judge my singing, they would judge me…! Long story short, I went up on that stage and killed it… Okay I went on that stage with the remaining group members and sang (warbled) my way through the song. My voice shook the entire time. I looked and felt as though I was about to faint throughout the entire performance. However, by the grace of God, I made it. I did not die. I faced a couple of my greatest fears in one night; standing in front of a large group and singing out loud.
As a woman in my thirties, I look back to who I was that night for encouragement to keep moving forward. I realize that regardless of what situation I may find myself in, I will overcome it one shaky note at a time. More importantly, I realized that I was enough and that regardless of anyone’s opinion; I was ok just as I was.
The final word… speaking your truth means that regardless of what fear is telling you, you must stand up, sing out, and let your voice be heard.