Anna, (DO NOT) be quiet.
When I was a kid I was too LOUD.
The clothes I picked were LOUD.
My voice was too LOUD.
I was OUTSPOKEN.
I was left under no illusion; these were BAD things.
They got me in trouble at home. They got me in trouble at school.
I lived with the label ‘foghorn’.
Good girls aren’t LOUD or BRASH, I was both. I would look at the other girls who didn't say much in groups or in class. They never felt the need to correct the teacher when they were wrong or speak up when something unjust was going on. No I could not accept that PE was cancelled because we had not behaved well in maths when our teacher had spent the whole year telling us that PE was part of the National Curriculum and therefore we should take it seriously. Alright, I was about 9 but even then I wasn't having it. I wasn't a rude kid, I wasn't naughty, but staying quiet was not my natural forte.
But somewhere along the line I accepted the fact that LOUD was not acceptable: in fact, it was embarrassing and and incorrect.
Over time I became quieter because LOUD was BAD and I am a master at changing things about myself. By the time I was a young teenager my LOUD was (mostly) papered over. Perfect I thought, now I am not too loud and no one can judge me for it.
But, in controlling the 'loud' I lost other things too. Things I didn’t notice at the time, like my anger at injustice and a playfulness which seemed to evaporate. CONTROL was the order of the day and I did it really well, for the most part.
Now I’m coaching and teaching on speaking up, challenging, presenting and confidence I am wondering about my LOUD. Were those girls I wished I could be more like secretly wishing they could be more like me? The clients I coach have things they want to say that they are not saying. Maybe my classmates did too. Maybe they weren't being 'good' maybe they were just being 'afraid'.
Are women encouraged to speak up and challenge and be brave by our society? Or are they taught to be good and to be quiet? I think it's the latter. So no wonder my clients come to me with things burning inside them that they keep quiet. Stuff they want to do and say and be that they are keeping inside quietly stressed about.
Now I have to shout about the fact that you can change and grow and become more LOUD when you want to. When you have something to say. I am starting to wonder why I would I do this quietly?
So do I dare:
Be LOUD about the fact that women often quiet themselves when men run their mouths? YES PLEASE.
Be LOUD about the fact we still get paid less in 2021 - YES MAM.
Be LOUD about the fact that you can change your life if you want? YES AGAIN.
When I am being quiet the world will miss out on the things I have to share. If I don't dare to be loud about the fact that I can help people, the specific help I bring wont reach them. Sometimes my brain will still tell me that hiding parts of my personality, like the LOUD will help me. Will make me more 'palatable'. Will make people like me more. But I resolve to keep remembering my LOUD.
So where are you not being something you actually are? Which part of you are hiding or shutting down, and what might the world be missing out on because of it?
It's worth considering that the exact thing you are trying to hide or amend, could be exactly what the world needs.
AND if you wish you could speak up more, join October's free class, You're On Mute we'll have you speaking up in no time.
PS: when I asked for photo's of me as a kid this is one of the ones Mum sent. I rest my case!