After my time in a Private Christian school, my parents decided to move us into the Public school system. My first impression of being in a Public School was not a good one.
It's the first day of school, 4th grade, Mrs. Carr's class- standing at her desk with a classroom of new kids behind me.
"You talk too much" were her first words to me. Her face was not soft, she did not smile, she meant it. She did not encourage or praise my character, but instead, gave me the look of disappointment, as if my words offended her.
It was the first time I felt ashamed of speaking. She gave me some papers, and told me to go sit back down at my desk.
This was not the first time I've heard that I talk too much. In fact, just two years prior, I was asked to put an apple in my mouth by a teacher because I couldn't stop talking in the middle of her lecture. We laughed, and she ended up listening to the questions I had. It didn't affect me the way this did. It was the first time I felt wrong for having so much to the say.
As I sank into my chair, contemplating how quickly she could take away my joy and excitement to be in a new school, I heard a "hello" from the seat next to me. I was afraid to say "hi" back, but her smile was like a golden sunflower; warm in the cool grey cinder block room. This "hello" would become my life long best friend - Ashley.
Until that point, my only friend who came with me to Public school, was assigned a different classroom. (We met Lori in chapter 1)
Turns out that Ashley and Lori had already met, and together we became one. . .
The school year ended, and although after having the same reoccurring nightmare about Mrs. Carr being an actual monster, I survived her class.
In 5th grade, The 3 of us decided to enter into the talent show, and recruited 2 other good friends of ours to join.
We chose to perform Aretha Franklin's "I Will Survive".
We practiced so hard for this. Afterschool we would meet in the chorus room to rehearse. We had a whole routine with dance moves - a pyramid, formations.. we had it all!
The night of the talent show was one that I will never forget. I was so nervous. We set up the stage with our 5 mics - 2 in front and 3 in the back.
Myself and Lori were up front, dressed in our pink irredecent shirts and we had our three singers/dancers in the back in blue.
The show starts, the lights come up, and I sing my heart out.
Nailing every move, belting every note.
I loved performing. . .
On stage I felt really proud. I saw my parents in the crowd, and my dad behind his camera. We nailed every move, and I sang every note at the top of my lungs. All was perfect.
I watch the video tape. . . and that shadow of shame crept closer and closer, dimming the light that made me feel proud to sing.
I sang louder than everyone! And not in a good way. My mic seemed to be on volume 10, when the rest of the crew's must have been off. We couldn't hear anyone, but me.
I was mortified.
I felt bad that I took the spotlight. My heart sank.
That little girl who gave it her all and sang from her heart and soul decided out of shame that she would hide from the world.
This evolved into how I showed up in the world. My voice is something I've kept hidden for so long, and finding her again has been a feat in owning who I am.
I made sure to not overstep, or be too loud or too much.
I was careful not to interrupt and any time I did speak my mind would loop "how does this sound? Are you too loud? Is this worth being said?"
I got strep throat several times as a kid, and it makes me wonder if it was from all the energy it took to hold back parts of yourself behind your vocal cords.
Eventually, I found an outlet of expression that allowed me to find freedom without using my voice. I found dance.
Through movement, I could feel energy moving. I didn't have any context behind it until I started to study yoga, but I did feel where things were stuck. I felt "choked up" a lot of times - when I was sad, or about to cry, and dance was my release. When I discovered the practice of yoga, it gave me time to explore this how energy moves through the body and why I felt all of this tension behind my throat. Little by little, I started to heal. I started to dig deep into the subconscious. My meditations would bring up this talent show. It gave me a chance to rewrite this experience. I had the opportunity yo tell that little girl to never stop singing. To be loud. To be heard, because she is so worthy of being heard.
True healing comes in facing our fears that sit in the shadows of these experience. For me it's speaking up, of being heard, and of owning my voice. It's expressing how I feel, and what I want... And so I will. . . for her. And my hope for you reading this, is that you do too. Because the whole world needs to hear us. We are meant to have one really loud mic.