For such a spunky gal (yep, I said spunky), I sure did spend a lot of time blending into the background. Not making waves, not jumping into confrontations, keeping my mouth shut even when something made me feel weird.
Camouflage was a survival skill, one that I carefully honed over the years.
There were more than a few times when I practically bit right through my tongue in the pursuit of holding it. I wasn’t good at calling someone out, and the very idea of conflict made me queasy. It still kind of does, but apparently other emotions override my imminent urge to vomit.
Believe it or not, I can actually pinpoint the moment this all began to change for me. To protect the innocent (along with the not-so), I’ll tell this one in broad strokes.
Last year I spent the afternoon with a group of parents. There were about fifteen of us trying to complete a unit project, and a comment was made that I violently disagreed with as we were wrapping up. But I was intimidated. There were murmurs of assent all around, and the leader ran with the group consensus. I went home that day ashamed of my silence and embarrassed that I hadn’t stood behind my own beliefs.
I sat with that shame for several days, trying to make it right in my mind, but there’s no turning back time. What’s done was done, but apparently it began a chain reaction within me. My spine got busy growing a steeliness.
By the time a few weeks had passed I was carving out a new spirit for myself, so when things went south in a different meeting there was an entirely different outcome. Conversation had veered off course, comments took on an ugly tone, and I finally found out where my limit was. I’ve never spoken out in a meeting like I did that night, shutting down grown adults for grossly inappropriate behavior.
I found it shocking and exhilarating all at the same time. There was definitely a sense of “I can’t believe I just said that” but it was balanced with a healthy dose of “Well, thank God, because it needed to be said.”
I’m finding the voice shows up more and more these days. Not that I’m spouting off at every little thing because all things in moderation, right? But gone are the days when I’ll duck my head and squelch my feelings to make sure other people stay comfortable.
And that’s feeling pretty darn good.