There is a story my genius father likes to change up depending on whatever situation I may be dealing with that I am particularly fond of and what better place to retell it than on my blog. 🙂
In the earliest stages of my life, I must have been an introvert. In the mid-stages of my life, a few years shy of teen age, I went all out for my extrovert personality. By the time I hit puberty, I was a perfect balance of all my personas but the outgoing introvert has since then been the most pronounced. For those who are not too familiar with “personalities”, there are introverts, extroverts, and then there are outgoing introverts – falling somewhere in between. The term “outgoing introvert” is an oxymoron on par with “deafening silence,” but for people who fall into this category, life can be an unusual mix of traits and tendencies that only they can truly appreciate. I will expound on these personalities in another story for another day, but today I really wanted to first share my excuse for my deathly fear of public speaking, and anything that forces me in the limelight or makes me leave my shyness cocooned in the closet where it should belong! Do not be fooled by my bubbly personality, the introvert in me always keeps me from speaking up; and it brings me to the story passed down from my daddy that I have been promising since the first line.
There was a man who was as brilliant as they come, I will call him Trevor for this story! He was an “expert” on a topic that is dear to my heart – mental health. He was very well read but he was extremely and painfully shy. He was informed by his direct experience with stigma and the mental health care system as an adolescent, and dedicated his life from an early age to opening minds and creating change. He authored commentaries on issues relating to mental health for major newspapers albeit all under a pseudo name because he was inexplicably shy to express himself. One day, he was invited to a conference of the best minds on mental health in the country. He sat silently in the audience marveling at how “experts” could be so ignorant about the topic they were mandated to discuss and yet he still did not make any contribution, verbal or otherwise because (you guessed right, yes) he was extremely shy. He left the conference aghast and feeling like it had been a waste of his time, but nobody remembered him either because he had not put his best foot forward, and had not said a word because…again, yes, he was extremely shy.
When you let your inhibitions stand in the way of your progress and eventual success, you are only cheating yourself.
It saddens me to admit that I am Trevor on so many levels. Even when I can hear my dad’s voice in my head gently cajoling me to let go of my fear, I hold onto it like my last lifeline. I write this for myself, much as I write it for you who relates to everything I have jotted so far. When you let your inhibitions stand in the way of your progress and eventual success, you are only cheating yourself. It does not matter if you are the best artist in the world if only your eyes behold of the beauty of the art; if you are the best musician that ever lived but the bathroom walls are your only audience; if you are the best writer and your deepest thoughts are only penned in your journal; the best photographer and only your niece gets to see your masterpieces; I could go on and on! You are only cheating yourself.
The best time to let go of your fears is was yesterday. The second best time is NOW, this very moment!
Speak up. When you take a stand and say what you choose without hesitation or confusion, it liberates your soul by setting you free. When you let go of the fear of what others may say and choose to say what you mean in every way, you are no longer a prisoner of insecurity. You now become a teacher to others who would otherwise hold back but now see in you the strength that they lack. You inadvertently enable them release the fears and doubts that they hold.
Speak up. Allow you bravery to shine through as you give all your fears up to the higher powers above. With kindness, dignity and love, do not be afraid to show others that it is okay to speak bold. Like the old adage goes, fake it until you make it! This really works when you are trying to let go of the excuse – I am extremely shy. A lot of the fear is in your head and you have to work through it so keep repeating the mantra in your head, “it is going to be okay, it has to be okay”.
You are not shy, at all. Don’t compromise yourself to collude with the rest, instead, speak truth in your words and remain at your best the best way you know how. If others don’t like the control that they lack because of your strength to speak truth and talk back, then that should be their issue – do not ever lose sight of who you truly are! ❤
Speak up! Keep making that stand even when it is hard (especially when it is hard) and you’re sure to go far. We all have the right to express our beliefs, our ideas, our opinions, happiness and grief. In the same spirit, you should allow others to do just the same while respecting them and their wishes without drama and pain. Never allow anyone to shame you or belittle your voice like you don’t have a choice because you always do have a choice.
I am shy is an excuse that keeps you more and more quiet and this gives control to others over you. You end up giving up who you are and it does not make any sense to allow this to be. You are the best you there will ever be and there is nobody on this planet that can do a better job at being you than you can! Be you! Be amazing, exceptional you, unapologetically so! Also, continually strive towards being the best version of yourself.
Keep speaking up without fear and someday you will speak right into the soul of the person that needs your message the most. Keep championing for positive change, use your voice to do the best you can to leave your mark on the world starting with the corner of the world you live in. Keep trying hard to find that strength deep within and let old habits go so new ones can begin. One day, one sweet day, “I am not shy” will be more than a mere fantasy! Speak up.
This is very much a note-to-self more than anything else and I hope two years or so down the road I will be thanking this younger version of me for standing up for the potential best version of me, and choosing to let go of my go-to explanation for my deathly fear of audiences and public speeches – I am extremely shy! Acknowledge your inner Trevor and let him go because he is only holding you back. I would really not mind if you shared this with everyone you know! 😉