This week I want to talk about something that that has dragged its feet behind me ever since I could talk. It was something that, at the time, I didn’t realize was so powerful. The comment that summarized my report cards, what scared me away from talking, negotiating, screaming until the hurt couldn’t possibly hurt anymore. It was what kept me from own life. That is, until I found it. It was my voice.
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“If only you weren’t so shy…”
“Sorry honey, my hearing at this age ain’t too sharp.”
“Say that again.”
“You’re a bright girl, but…”
“If only you were more like her.”
“You’re not loud enough.”
You don’t know how badly I wanted to shout back, “Well, maybe try listening harder!” Every book report, participation grade, parent-teacher conference came with this recurring, ever-so-notorious but. She’s an excellent student, but… She has all of the pieces their, but… But if only she’d talk more in class. If only she’d participate more in group projects. If only this, if only that. Why couldn’t just I be enough? Why did I even have to talk in the first place? Someone else would have the answer anyways. I’m not the only one who knows the answer. But that was just it. Just the pep-talk rehearsed thousands of times before each math question. Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. Don’t cry because it hurts, suck it up because it’ll hurt less. Be SILENT.
Growing up, I never knew myself as quiet. But other people did, so I let them believe that. And that worked. Trying to explain myself just wasn’t worth it, it wasn’t worth anyone’s time, much less mine. And… I was okay with that. I allowed myself to stay stuck in a rut. But sooner or later I discovered, that rut. That rut I had so finely perfected the art of staying in was dissolving into who I really was. The words that the invisible devil perched on my shoulder shouted in my ear, “You’re not loud enough” slowly became, “You’re not good enough.” And that was when I had had just about enough. So one day, after a lengthy speech I gave to myself in my bathroom mirror, and listening to a few empowering Beyonce songs, I spoke. I mustered up the courage to give one lowly answer to Question #7 on my 6th grade math homework, and I spoke.
With only just hours until the election is over, the conversations I’ve overheard, especially among adults have become increasingly brash and impetuous. Growing up, I asked a lot of questions, especially about the world around me; what things meant or what was happening in the news, all the way down to whether salt or pepper tasted better on corn-on-the-cob. Once I asked a question, thousands flooded in at the same time. It was uncontrollable, this fetish of mine, but addictive. Though, there was one thing I could never wrap my head around, something so simple at the time, little I knew would divide the country farther apart than ever: politics. I was always taught, Republicans love their country too. Or, Just because people have different beliefs on how the country should be run, doesn’t mean ways of running our country are better than another. Yet, my small, unseasoned mind simply couldn’t come to terms with the coexistence of two radically different groups under one government. I brushed many of those deep and philosophical 4 year-old questions about politics, government, and unity. That is, until now. Those thoughts I had just years ago, mind you, when I was a toddler, have been taken to new levels of thought. New levels that have ignited candidate-signage wars in the battle grounds of neighbors’ very own front lawns. Fueled heated, and unpleasant dinner-table dinner table arguments, and diminished any glimpse of political savvy that may have just salvaged this whirlwind of an election year. But alas, it was the words of the candidates that truly spoke for themselves.
Did you ever notice how Donald Trump presents himself in a room, even before he says a single word into his microphone, causing internal eye rolls among nearly all of his staff members? It’s actually not a bad tactic. Through his body language, he makes everyone aware of his importance. And that was one of the key factors gaining him votes. But where he lacks, one of the many edges he has yet to have over Secretary Clinton, is his voice.
There is a fine line between speaking versus yelling. Rather, a fine line between control versus discipline. Speaking involves a great deal of thoughtfulness, compassion, and constant access to your internal filter. Yelling requires none of the above. Yelling doesn’t have rules, or boundaries, much like free-verse poetry (Don’t even get me started on free-verse poetry!😡). Yelling puts the power entirely on you, and your words alone. Why yell, you may ask? Could it make a person happier to be angry? Could creating an atmosphere of stress and resentment calm a person down? Well, yes and no. The yeller yells for power. Power being an ease to the anxiety-inducing question: Do people like me? The overcoming urge people feel to stop at nothing for popularity and control is like a walloping hole of quicksand. It sucks you in, farther and farther, until there’s nothing left but a person someone once thought they knew. So, what does all of this have to do with the volume of your voice, or achieving the utmost political pursuit? Everything.
Donald Trump used his insecurities and failures as the unspoken driving force behind his campaign. And he chose to yell. Many think of him as a powerful businessman; king of the upper class’ hotel and timeshare industry. Donald has nothing to say suggesting anything other than the dark overcast Democrats have set over the country. Not a word of sympathy, kindness, or , for that matter, either. He is far from a leader So, he followed the nearest and most direct route to control: being liked.
We can see why the possibility of the Trump Administration would draw question and scrutiny. He has absolutely no sensible or achievable policies, no respectful ways of engaging in conversation or negotiations with any minority groups or other foreign leaders, and treats his Twitter followers like members of a schoolyard gangs; giving anyone who crosses pet names, and igniting full-fledged wars on a gold-star family and a former Miss Universe through 140 character rants. He has set the bar so low, lower than any other candidate on the ticket before, and like I said, resorts to what feeds him comfort. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, just…speaks. She doesn’t need, or have the desire, really, to be loud. And she isn’t. But yet, she controls the room. Her dedication to our country and her presence of poise speak louder than anything Donald J. Trump will ever criticize, or ridicule, or judge. She doesn’t have to yell, or shout, or scream. In fact, she doesn’t have to say a word. Look, I may be young. Too young, even, to form an opinion. At least that’s what I’ve heard. But in no way does it change the fact, that I have a voice. Is it always up to everyone’s standards of: power, authority, or manliness? No. No, it’s not. But it’s up to mine. You don’t have to yell, to be heard by crowd. You don’t have to shout to be heard by a country. You don’t have to scream to be heard by the world. You merely have to speak, to be heard by yourself. Because if you no longer listen to the words coming from your very own mouth, you must listen harder to the words coming from your very own heart.
We are all given a voice in this world, and it is up to us how we use it. The next time you do, ask yourself something: Are these coming from me, or someone I’m pretending to be?
I want to wish you all a very happy Election Day, and support the candidate who will be the best representative of your voice and your values. And finally, never forget about the power of quiet. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
~The Legally Brunette