One of my many side jobs (to keep my sane at my desk job) is singing with a professional caroling company. Last night I was talking with the leader of my quartet about whether or not I sing at the optimal volume. I tend to be on the quiet side, some have commented. Quite to the contrary- I know I have the ability to be powerful and vibrant.
This phenomenon sounds hauntingly familiar.
Much like my singing voice, my activist voice has yet to settle into a comfortable volume. At times I get exuberant about the difference I know I can make. People become overwhelmed, some of them cover their ears. At other times I freak out and I shudder to think of what people will say- the loaded remarks, the uncomfortable stares, as I wonder what they think of my words- of what’s happened, and of me.
This week I’m staring down the barrel of the biggest opportunity I’ve heard about in the non-profit world. This loaded gun of exposure could catapult my humble campaign to great heights and allow me to do some amazing things. But my odds of being afforded this opportunity will be exponentially bigger with a little help from my friends.
So this week, the lesson— the DIY therapy, is giving up that voice that tells me to keep quiet and letting my friends in a little more than usual- employing their help in trying to get me the fellowship I’m applying for with TED- which, I believe is one of the most influential sites out there, and my personal favorite.
For a few weeks, friends have been writing their recommendations- telling TED why they should choose me for a global fellowship. I figured a few people would have generic remarks, and I worried that most would feel weird having to manufacture some response about the different I’m trying to make- trying to pretend like the movement resonates with them when they only support it out of a sense of obligation.
Instead, I’ve found myself CC’d in half a dozen of the most heartfelt letters I’ve ever read.
Consequently, the last few months haven’t been great- and it’s been a bumpy road trying to set an example of “healing”- trying to be okay for myself and for others, and wondering if it’s even in my best interest to pursue a global movement that keeps me from doing the number one thing I’d like to do – – which is forget.
But in reading the words of my friends, I remember why I do what I do. I remember why people care about “That’s What She Didn’t Say,” and what the possibilities are for this campaign.
I could not be more grateful for my friends. They are a large part of how I have begun to find my voice, whether it is singing a Christmassy tune or speaking up about the things I believe in. It is only through their support that I’m able to help others find their voices.
A year ago, before I started “That’s What She Didn’t Say”- my campaign to end sexual violence, the worst thing I could imagine was people knowing my “secret”- about the years of sexual abuse in my past- about the part of me that isn’t “over it” the way I’d like to be, and how much of my adult life is colored by my past experiences.
As each person in my life has learned a little bit about my experiences, I’ve held my breath and waited for some of the reactions I got as a pre-teen- the doubt, the judgment, the lack of support. I still wait for these things, but piece by piece, I’m putting back that fragmented part of the way I see others.
I can’t lie and say it’s easy or that sharing my story has made all of the bad memories turn into magical fairy dust, but I’m blessed to have many happy thoughts, and the voice to share them with others until they learn how to fly for themselves.