We Know, But We Can’t Say It
It’s those words. They sit right up there in our foreheads. They are the important ones. More often than not, they are words kept captive there by a fear we hold dear.
We know what words they are, in our hearts we do. We know what they mean to us. We can’t say them out loud because, then we would hear them and, we might get the kind of response we got once. We know that’s not so, but knowing is one thing that is easier to say, than to do.
About three nights before SOBCon07, nearing midnight I was on the phone with a dear friend. We were talking about the conference, how the event would soon be real.
I called him by name, I said, “I’m afraid.”
As any friend would, he asked what it was making me feel that way. I saw the words, felt the words, knew the answer then. I probably knew the answer for days before this conversation took place. I felt my throat tighten to think of saying the words out loud.
I said, “I know, but let’s talk some more. I can’t tell you right now.”
A while later, the subject came up again in a natural way. I knew it was important that I say the words out loud for someone to hear. I worked my way up to give context, to build courage, to make sure that we both understood. What I said came out something like this. . . .
I’m not afraid that no one will come. I know they will. I’m not afraid that the event will not be successful. It will be an experience that the attendees will never forget. I’m not afraid of the people in the room for whom I will be speaking.
I’m afraid of the kids I went to grade school with.
He wondered what I meant. I laughed and said, “Don’t worry I can handle them.”
He said, “Please explain.” I did.
What I thought was a story that’s so universal. I said, “Remember when some kids at school made you feel small?”
But those kids had shrunk and vanished the minute I let that fear out of my head — when I said it. At that exact second, they were no longer near, they were decades ago. I knew that they had forgotten me, and I could forget about their laughter at my expense. They looked small and young in the distance.
I wish we didn’t hold a fear to say what we know is our truth waiting to be said. “I’m afraid, because of the kids I went to school with.” How silly is that? Boy am I glad that sentence is out of my head.
We hold onto sentences like that. I can’t say out loud who I am, what I’m good at, what I love, where I’m going, what I dream, what I fear, what I need, what I hope, because if I say it out loud I might hear and you might respond like the kids did at school.
Imagine if we choose wisely enough to trust and to talk out loud to folks who can see us.
We can change the world — just like that.
–ME “Liz” Strauss