Recently, I have started to put myself out there again. I am attending meetings, giving my opinion, and circulating my thoughts to more than just the inside of my own head. To be honest, it’s somewhat scary. But, it is also invigorating.
For a while now….maybe a couple of years, I have tried to keep my opinions to myself, to stay out of the stresses of having others disagree, to protect myself from the frustrations that can result from fighting city hall or a losing battle.
Did my stress level decrease? Yes. Was I happier? No.
Instead, I think the person who was frustrating me was me! I was having difficulty making decisions or voicing opinions or being involved, all out of the fear I would stress myself or someone else. So, I stayed quiet. But, quietness does not stifle one’s thoughts, does it? No. Thoughts exist whether they are voiced or not and if there is no one to express them to – well, they go no where but fester in one’s own brain.
I really don’t know what the tipping point was for me, but I realized that I had given up focusing on some issues and topics that were important to me – education, educational reform, and student advocacy, among others. In short, by agreeing to “get off these topics, because I was getting nowhere,” I was denying myself part of who I really am.
My 18-year-old has a saying, “You do you.” I have heard this from other young adults, too. They may have a point. In not sharing my experiences, my acquired knowledge, or my opinions, I was not being me. I was not being anyone. No wonder I felt that what I said didn’t matter or was not listened to – I was not even offering it up for any reason – criticism or approval – just keeping all those thoughts I had to myself.
While this plan of action may have led to a decreased level of stress, it also led to the frustrations (and yes, stress) of not being heard. I wasn’t heard because I wasn’t trying to be heard. I was hiding – if not physically, I was hiding, verbally, and most certainly, cognitively.
I had stopped meeting with people I enjoy talking educational philosophy with and stopped working to correct deficiencies noted in local systems. I had stopped being an advocate for anyone – sadly, this included even advocating for myself.
But, in the last month, I have felt a “coming alive” type of sensation. I realized that I had given up things important to me. I realized that I needed to say – you do you, and I’ll do me! So, I have started making forays back into situations and meetings that will challenge me. I have been energized my the amount of thinking I am doing, energized about prospective conversations, and energized knowing that I am returning to topics that hold importance for me.
I plan to be polite, be a good listener, and above all share what thoughts I have! It will be good to get them out of my head and on the table once again. I declare that I have been un-stifled!