Happy weekend. I hope your day is going well. I am just putting some burgers on the grill. How would you like yours cooked?
Another writing prompt:
Write about a time somebody silenced you.
I remember very clearly when someone silenced me.
Growing up as the youngest of 3 kids, there was a good amount of hand-me-downs, and “XX did that, so you need to”. If my sister competed in swimming, I needed to. If my brother ran track, I was encouraged to do so. I took the same classes they did. I was always known as XX’s little sister.
Then came college. The older 2 both went into the same field. At the same school. When the time came for me to go to school, I ended up at the same college too. I was asked “Are you going to be an ABC, too?” Um, no.
Anyhoo. I went my own way with my college major. After my sister graduated, she decided to get her MBA. That was a big deal back then. Her concentration for her MBA was to be the field of study I was pursuing. I? Was pissed. Why was I pissed? I should be thrilled that she was pursuing post-graduate work, right?
But the way I saw it? I saw it as this field of study was mine. MINE. It was the first time in my life that I was pursuing something *I* wanted, not something I was being told I *should* do. Childish? Yes. Petty? Yes.
But I didn’t see it that way at the time.
I talked to someone about it, explaining why I was angry. The response? “That’s just stupid.”
And with that one phrase, I was silenced.
That was the first time I can remember that my thoughts and my feelings were completely discounted. (It probably had happened before, but this is one time I can look back on clearly.) I was summarily dismissed and what I heard was that my feelings were not important. I was devastated.
The person that said that to me probably would have no recollection of the comment or the conversation. If I could replay the scene, the comment was very likely just tossed off without malice or a second thought.
But for me? It began a lifetime of censoring my own thoughts and words. For years, I stopped myself from expressing that which was important to me at the time. It became a habit. It became a way of being.
The impact? The impact is that I have been living a life that other people want and expect of me. I have not been living an authentic life for as long as I can remember. The fear of being judged or criticized was too much.
It’s only been recently that the silence, the sound of silence, has become too much for me. Granted, people who know me would say that I am anything but reticent to speak my mind. But, I think that if they stopped and considered exactly *what* I say when I speak up, they too would realize that I speak my mind when I know it is safe. I am fine being the center of attention if I put myself in that situation. However, if someone else makes me the center of attention, I completely shut down. It all goes back to fear.
The sound of silence for me is stifling. I now know better. If someone today made the same comment to me, I would either defend my position or brush off their obvious insensitivity as a character flaw on their part. I know now that my feelings have merit. My thoughts are worthy of expression. My personality deserves to shine in the sun. And if the people in my life don’t agree with me? That’s fine. We are all entitled to have our opinions. However, if they openly disregard my feelings and thoughts, or go out of their way to belittle me, then they no longer deserve to be in my life.
Silence is appropriate in many situations. But silence when you are trying to express your truth is NOT acceptable. The world needs you to be you. It wouldn’t be right without you.
Have you been silenced?