At the beginning of this year, I told my Facebook friends that one of my goals was to “say how I feel.” It’s something I’ve never been good at — and for me, 2017 is a year of growth and improvement.
This has not been an easy goal for me to keep up with … because I am “the quiet girl.”
I am a shy person. Not all writers are shy, and not all shy people like to write. But I write because I am shy — because it takes me a long time to organize my thoughts before I’m comfortable making them public.
The problem with growing up ‘quiet’ is that people learn to ignore and talk over you without doing so intentionally. They just assume you’re either not interested in adding to the conversation or you don’t have anything ‘important’ to say.
At least, that’s my experience.
I’m not mad about it. Technically, it’s my own fault. Shyness isn’t something you “get over,” but you can train yourself to assert your ideas when needed. I just never really took the time to learn that.
So there are days, as I’m sure some of you have experienced in your own lives, when I feel like nothing I have to say matters. I keep a lot of thoughts to myself. I like to listen more than I like to contribute — but often when I do try, still, my words don’t seem to have meaning to anyone who isn’t me.
This is why I write. This is why I spend hours every day researching the facts behind what I say. Because journalism is about finding the unique angle in a trending idea. You’re adding your unique perspective onto something people have been hearing about all day/week/month.
Yet through that, I’ve started to learn that it doesn’t matter where or what I’m publishing — whether it’s an article for an organization or a Facebook post on my personal page. Just because not everyone cares about my facts or opinions doesn’t mean they’re worthless.
Stop letting yourself think your words don’t mean anything. Even if they’re meaningful only to you, that’s still significant.
When you feel like you don’t have anything important or unique to say, you should speak your mind anyway. You should write down what’s on your heart even if there’s no “wow” factor associated with it. If you silence yourself every time you think your voice is too small to matter, you’re never going to build up the courage to speak up when it matters most.
Your. Voice. Matters. I’m still learning this lesson. You can start, too. Yes, our words have consequences. But that doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of every thought you’re tempted to write or say. Sure, in some cases, staying silent is the best alternative. But when you can — any way you can — raise your voice. Make yourself heard. Maybe only one person will listen. Maybe 423 will. Who knows? You’ll never know until you step up and speak your mind.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.