I was recently asked what I’m most grateful for and the first thing that come to my mind was “my voice”. Immediately. No hesitation. Naturally I’m grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head and some money in my pocket so I don’t have to worry about putting food on the table. I live a very full life surrounded by loving friends and family and I consider myself extremely fortunate to walk around in this body every day. In fact, before my feet hit the ground each morning, I think about three things I am grateful for. This usually starts with my partner (shout out to DP), my health and then some variation of family.
So why this new revelation? And why was I able to answer so quickly? At the time I thought it was a bit odd. Can’t say I’ve ever heard someone say #gratefulformyvoice. This gave me pause even. Then it hit me.
I’ve spent the past nine months really doubling down on my why. Who do I serve and what do I truly do? What is my purpose. More importantly, why me?
I’d like to say it was easy to figure this out, a no brainer. But it was not. A lot of hours spent thinking, coaching and reflecting. Some discomfort and a LOT of vulnerability. And finally, it just hit me.
My voice. I use it. Often. And many times, when others cannot.
You may think it’s easy for an extrovert but it’s not. I get nervous and at times I am shy. I too suffer from imposter syndrome. After a successful keynote people often ask me, were you always this way? The answer is no I was not, and if you have a few minutes for a story, I’d love to tell you how that changed.
My story is about a little girl who won the Screwy Screamer award at Camp Chickami in 1976 and thus became an advocate for women speaking up.
When I was a seven, I was a crazy and wild kid. I mean a total in your face extrovert. One day at Camp Chickami, I was awarded the ” Screwy Screamer” award. This was a great honor at Camp Chickami and a highly coveted award. This award goes to the screwiest, loudest, most outgoing and generally craziest kid at camp. In short, it’s a big deal.
When presented with this award, I promptly cried. And these were not tears of joy. I didn’t understand what was happening and all I could see was people laughing at me and pointing. Everyone. I burst into tears and was very upset. Here’s where it gets interesting.
I can still see as clear as day my older sister rushing up to me, bending down on her knees (I was seven, remember), hugging me and telling me that this was ok and was in fact a good thing.My sister explained to me that this award means that people like hearing me and want to hear what I have to say.My sister then repeatedly stuck up for me time and time again when we were little (I’m looking at you, bully Bruce Gorsky) and in doing so gave me the greatest gift ever – my voice. She then lived her life as an introvert, quietly in the background, supporting everyone she loves and never really speaking up herself.
My purpose is helping people to truly believe they are worthy of being heard. Then giving them the tools so they can speak up to stand out. Like my sister did for me.