Fancy a Wee Bit of Outspokenness, Part I

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Why should Hilary, Bernie and Beyonce have all the fun? I’m not including the other person in the political scene because he’s not outspoken, just  stoopid as they say in New Jersey.

As Scaredy-Cats we’re not known for opening our mouth and letting our opinions fall out. Sure, we might have our moments of self-expression if we’ve had too many sazeracs while in New Orleans or if our kid calls up to say they are going to live in the backwoods (yes, there really are) of Greenland for a year.

Self-expression doesn’t come easy.

We tend to be observers, carefully monitoring any scene before us and internally calling the shots, always positioning ourselves in the safe zone.

Why? We want to avoid things like:

—criticism-bombs
—the spotlight – afflicting us with instant blindness and frozen brains
— looking and sounding different than our arranged version
Way back when I was a senior in high school, our Communications class toured a local TV news station. When asked who would like to try out being the “anchor of the moment” two students raised their hands; one belonged to me.

I was known to raise my hand while sitting in a school desk, having studied and memorized facts and figures to regurgitate for approval’s sake. As a freshman, I took the mandatory Speech class, where I had to stand in front of the class with a prepared 5 minute speech but that came with lots and lots of practice behind closed doors. Which meant, even if my stomach hovered in my throat while giving my speech, I at the very least, was prepared.

Preparation. Pre—thinking things through. Deliberateness of self-expression has merit, yet too often we Scaredy-Cats linger there.

Cuz what if I misspeak and people get the wrong idea of me?

What if I experience the wrath of khan and her people point their fingers my way?

The what-if’s become larger than life in our minds all the while our unique message gets tamped down. A self-fulfilling prophecy at work.

Back to the wanna-be-a-news-anchor moment. My body moved on it’s own accord to sit at the booth next to the other student. Meanwhile the rest of the class and teacher moved to another room with engineering controls and watched us on a TV screen. I felt both fear and a spark of something else – something close to cavalier – but don’t hand me a feather. I don’t remember the news of the day that I shared, but afterwards, a professional at the TV station said to me “you have a great voice.”

Huh?

Didn’t see that one coming. Hadn’t planned my day while I was eating my cheerios earlier in the morning to include this fresh perspective. That’s the thing about not constantly planning and preparing. Surprises happen.

I do have another utterly horrid experience of outspokenness . In my excitement to welcome a work cohort into my home whom I hadn’t seen in a few years, out popped these words “oh, I didn’t know you were pregnant?”

“I’m not” she replied.

Where’s my invisibility cloak? How can I escape so I can throw-up.

How did those words come falling out of my mouth? Once out, they can’t go back in, as you may have seen in some film reverse motion scene. oh no. All the ugliness of embarrassment was there in a thick fog around me.

She didn’t say anything, come-on, she was irked.

I quickly apologized. Very quickly. So quickly I may have whispered it and she didn’t even hear me.

Needless to say, she stayed in my house for a few days and didn’t depart to the other side of town to stay at a more congenial home. Lesson learned and I have never, ever, repeated those words, even to someone who looks like they are in the throes of contractions.

How to be outspoken when habit means choking back the words at all costs?

I’m returning with a part II and perhaps part III on this topic next time.

For now, just notice when you are holding yourself back from speaking up. How does it feel in your body?

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