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The Words of Freedom

March 8, 2017

In honour of International Women’s Day I’m sharing a piece I wrote for a deliciously inspiring and totally free ebook launched today called Voices Rises. Collated by the wonderful Sas Petherick, with contributions from a diverse group of creatives from around the globe, Voices Rising aims to help women find their voices.

 

 

I don’t have a loud voice; well, not on the outside.

Throughout my childhood, I was told to “speak up”. Year after year, I would recoil as people pasted me with the label “quiet and shy”. On my wedding day I sat in dismay as my father-in-law’s speech revealed to our guests that even his first impressions of me had been just that – quiet and shy. It was as if the real me was completely invisible.

I felt misunderstood, often ashamed. Other people’s expectations of me were so loud. How could I be worth anything if I appeared so quiet?

The outside can be deceptive, though. It’s on the inside that you find what I call the real world.

This real world has for me, and maybe you, always been a rich and engaging world of curiosity, ideas, insights and dreams. It has always felt deeply important and a precious place to experience life and what really matters.

Yet, so much of what floats naturally around on the inside never sees the light of day, is never heard or valued by others who may desperately need it, and never takes its rightful place in the outside world.

Each one of us has pieces inside us with a role to play. Like a puzzle, each unique piece fits together to form a world we all want to inhabit, a world that thrives. Hidden inside us, each of us, are the answers that slot together to make positive change. More than ever, isn’t this what we need?

But what if your voice is quiet on the outside like mine was? Perhaps your words are different to everyone else’s or you fear they would be lost or unwanted if you let them out. Maybe you feel others have said it all already, and said it better? What if you feel there’s no point in letting your words find their way out in an increasingly loud and confusing world?

Every single one of those thoughts has drifted around my own mind. Yet all the while, my words resounded louder, clearer and stronger. Finally, they ate away at me from the inside with a deep hunger to be let loose.

Sometimes this hunger to voice my True Self in the world took the form of physical symptoms: I would have muscular tension in my neck and shoulders. I was flooded by the all-consuming emotions of frustration and anger. But there was always a latent feeling of dis-ease, of not being myself, not valuing myself or doing myself justice because I was vacating the words of my soul for the words of conformity and acceptance.

My words were imprisoned, and yet it was me who was their jailer. As the struggle to keep them incarcerated intensified, my body buckled under strain, finally collapsing with chronic fatigue. I had lost the battle to keep the words of my soul locked up. They were free at last.

In the depths of my exhaustion, before I could even rebuild what had crumbled, I was forced to let my words flow out, releasing my true self into the world, unconstrained, unsuppressed for the first time.

I unplugged myself and let the words gush out. I wrote page after page after page. Words flew out of me. My true self, my pure voice, filled the paper and fed my soul. My whole body benefitted; I got stronger physically and emotionally. Slowly, I re-built a life that sustained this flow every day.

Liberated from my self-imposed oppression, my voice grew in strength, courage and a desire to claim its place in the world. Not a big and loud place but a small and meaningful place that fits me just perfectly. That place is there for me, and only me, to claim. You have your own place to claim, too. Whether it takes the form of words, photos, creations, movement or another creative expression, we all need to see the expression of your soul, your true self. More importantly, you need to let yourself feel free.

Open the door, let you out. Let yourself out in your purest form. Leave the worries of what might happen aside, whilst you claim your birthright to express yourself in this world, human to human, contributing in your own precious way. Drop the pressure of needing to say the right thing, or the big thing, and just express your thing in your way.

There are days when I wonder whether life would be easier without my inner truths being outside in the world. It still feels risky and vulnerable to share openly and personally in a world that encourages us otherwise. On those days, I remember not only that I am brought alive by expressing my true self but also that by being myself I am helping others to be themselves. Because together, and only together, can we make the change that this world, our world, so desperately needs.

Whoever you are, wherever you have journeyed in your life and how imprisoned your voice has been, a deep sense of freedom and worthiness is yours for the taking and the worlds to receive. Quiet or loud, are you with me?

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