As a very young child, I was extremely shy. I recall how difficult it was to exchange a hello when introduced to my mother’s friends. I could only whisper my greetings. I knew it should not be difficult, but it was. It was awkward and very uncomfortable.
My mother was a very extroverted person. She carried herself with confidence and was one of those “life of the party” people. I was so unlike her. My father is an introverted person, one who while quiet in a group- his thoughts always deep and willing to wander beyond the box. I tell you these things about my parents as I wish for you to picture our mealtimes at the table. Mom could always make us laugh and Dad- well he made me question the world around me. So our dinner discussions would include thoughts on life, death, religion, capital punishment, racism…sprinkled in with Mom’s ability to kill a good joke with the punch line too soon. Those dinners taught me something very special to me. They showed me I have the right to think deeply, explore my beliefs and be able to pronounce them aloud. They showed me how to laugh at myself ( as my mother always did) yet have confidence within. Those dinners are where I found my voice.
As I age, I realize the gift that my parents gave to this very shy, introverted child. They helped me overcome my reservations and become me. As a result, I have been able to use my voice to help others, many in great physical and emotional pain. I feel beyond grateful for the experience. I now know the power of one’s voice.
Today I find my thoughts always wandering beyond the box. I love to share and receive others’ insights on life, death, religion…I feel strongly compelled to react to racism, intolerance and discrimination. I am able to use my voice and I am not fearful of doing so. I do not feel awkward and uncomfortable unless I stay silent. Ironic isn’t it. So different from that little girl who could hardly whisper hello. And I have learned not to take myself too seriously…I laugh at myself often. I have found my voice. I won’t give it up and I won’t stay silent anymore. Thanks to my mom and dad.