Speak Your Truth

These last several weeks with the protests and the commitment to change racial inequality, social injustice, and police brutality have moved me. It has been heartbreaking to see the loss of life, to hear the stories and experiences of so many and it’s been humbling to do my own reading, soul-searching and reflection on ways I have contributed to this societal norm, even if inadvertently. I have spent my career advocating and fighting for students who attend schools in under-resourced communities but that doesn’t mean I am not culpable or don’t have more to learn or change as we work to establish more equitable practices. Aside from those emotions, I have also been inspired and impressed with the courage and honesty expressed through the peaceful protests. I love seeing the diversity of them, people from so many walks of life joining together as a unified front demanding change. It gives me hope for a better tomorrow for humankind.
In addition to this larger scale reckoning with reality, personally I’ve had my own opportunities recently to speak my truth. I’ve had a few experiences or conversations that didn’t sit well with me. I’ve gone on my own “protest”, (which means walking around my neighborhood to sort out my feelings). I’ve had to wrestle with my truth and find the courage to speak it out loud to others, to honor myself. I’ve had to communicate what I am ok with and what I’m not. Being vulnerable is hard. Being honest about my thoughts and feelings in personal and professional settings can feel awkward. Putting my needs first at times can feel selfish. It isn’t always easy, but it is freeing.
For years, my goal in life (among many others) was to be “Happy and Free”. Generally, I feel like I’m there. But when I’m not “happy and free”, I feel that too. It’s not a good place to be, my stomach hurts, I don’t sleep well, I can’t focus on other things. I don’t like it there and feel unsettled until I return to that space. I think many people share that same experience. They aren’t happy and free. Unfortunately, it is easy to become used to that sense and eventually become immune, unaware and feel stuck. However, you/we, have the power to ensure our happiness and freedom. We become empowered when we say what we need or want. It’s ok, speak your truth. Be honest about what you are feeling. Share your perspective. Have those crucial conversations. What works for you? What aligns to your values, your desires, your plan for yourself? I’m giving you permission to voice those things to others. You have equal value and importance.
Because I’m still learning how to speak my truth, depending on the intensity of the situation I sometimes have to practice. My family laughs at me, but I have even been known to use note cards. I jot down my thoughts/feelings on an index card or in my journal to ensure that I say everything I need to say. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the moment and forget important points I want to ensure are communicated. This technique gives me strength and courage to use my voice. If it was significant enough to write down it also needs to be said. I don’t always need that assistance, especially as I continue to practice and build my truth-speaking muscle, but when I do need it and use it, it helps.
When I’m in my car, which has not been much lately, I sometimes listen to stand-up comedians on Sirius radio, depending on my mood and what I need at that time. Now that our shelter at home has been lifted, I went to meet a friend at a park. On the way, I heard a comedian tell a joke about his pledge to live by the 10 Commandments. He mentioned how easy it is to keep some of them but how hard it is to live by others. He gave examples of various commandments and his effort to abide by them. He shared that he is committed to “not telling falsehoods” and always being honest. He said his approach to this feat is to use a different tone of voice (i.e. sarcasm). It was hilarious! And timely since I’d been thinking about this whole “Speak your truth” notion. Being honest is hard! It takes courage, whether you are one person in a large group of people who all share your view (although strength does come in numbers), or if you are alone, with coworkers, your boss, or your family and friends, standing up for yourself. But speaking your truth for you is necessary and worth it! I want you to also be happy and free!

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