One of my earliest posts on the blog was about confidence, and how I was trying to practice being more confident and not letting my critical voice be the loudest, allowing my cheerleader voice to be heard also. Fake it till you make it. It’s one of those things that sounds easy, but is actually pretty difficult to carry off. Particularly as you’re trying to break the habit of a lifetime. It’s not that I am unconfident in myself or my abilities, but I suppose have always thought of myself as average and have never dreamt big, and always, always, shied away from moving beyond my comfort zone. Why? Fear of rejection, of people saying ‘ no, thank you’ , of not being good enough. So I stay in my comfort zone, but unhappily – comfortably unhappy. Not much of a comfort zone.
Finding your voice
I was listening to the Guilty Feminist podcast recently and one of the co-hosts, Deborah Frances-White, talked of the importance of women finding, and using, their voice – whether that be through comedy, writing or blogging. The introvert me has always kept my voice hidden, quiet, particularly in a group situation, letting the more confident and outgoing take the floor. I make myself small.
This blog is a huge step for me, putting myself and my inner most thoughts ‘out there’ and I have to push myself everyday to keep doing it and not throw in the towel. I am allowing myself to dream, to hope. I am writing, I am planning a line of feminist products and clothing for the blog, and next year I hope to run some events in Dublin.These are not just dreams, I am making small steps to get there: I have produced some t-shirts, held a giveaway and opened my online shop to sell them (pictured below). I am networking with events people on twitter..slowly, slowly. All the books tell you to imagine yourself doing it. So I am picturing myself, standing in front of a group of women, introducing my guest speaker at an event I have coordinated. I can see myself doing this. I can do this.
Putting myself out there.
As bloggers we all make a decision as to whether we will ‘out’ or selves or not. Some choose to blog anonymously, others reveal themselves. I pondered on this briefly when starting my blog and decided I would show my face and my name, but only my first name. I didn’t want people to be able to put my full name into google and for the blog to come up. I don’t know who I think will be looking for me on google, but such was my nervousness -that was my decision.
On Monday, I was delighted to be contacted by a journalist from a national newspaper asking for my thoughts on the new range of Little Miss and Mr Men books, and on gender stereotyping in kids toys. Do I have an opinion on that? You bet your ass I do. She asked did I want to speak on phone or by email? I’m disappointed to say I took the introverts way out and went by email; I wish I had spoken to her, but this was a first for me, so, you know, little steps. Then she asked could she use my full name. Surname and all. This would mean my full name, linked to themotherhub, in a national newspaper. Eek. No hiding anymore, no making myself small. Putting myself out there. I took the plunge and I did it. You can read the full article from the Irish Independent, here. Small as this may seem to many, for someone not used to speaking out, this is A Big Deal. I still haven’t told my family though. Everyone has you in some kind of box , or in a category – it can be hard to tell them you want to move out of that box, or that you should never have been in that box in the first place.
Say it louder
As an overthinking introvert, the conversations I have in my head are long and ongoing. Sometimes, after a particularly in-depth internal monologue, I startle myself with the realisation I have not actually been talking to anyone. (That sounds, ever so slightly bonkers doesn’t it?) Slowly, I am learning to say things out loud. Well, actually not say them out loud , but write them down and send them out to the world via twitter or the blog. Whispering. Each tweet, each blog post, an exercise in strengthening my voice, in saying it louder.
Imagine you’re in a glass box: all you can envisage for yourself is outside of the box, you can see it but you’re not able to get to it. You tap, tap away at the glass until the cracks begin to show. You tap a little harder, the cracks widen. You get bolder. You pick up a hammer. You smash it. You’re there.
Goodbye Comfort Zone, hello Wide Open Spaces. (Yes, I love the Dixie Chicks)