As long as I can remember, I've been reluctant to speak my mind.
I've always been afraid to develop or express a strong opinion for a few reasons:
1. What if I'm wrong?
2. What if I don't have all the information?
3. What will this opinion say about me?
Expressing ourselves is a huge part of being who we are. Some express through art, others through their work, through writing, speaking, singing...
Expressing ourselves is a way to put our ideas, feelings and beliefs out into the world. It's a neon sign saying, 'hey! This is me being me!!'
Language, of course, plays a huge role in our expressiveness. It allows us to endlessly categorize, label, and define our world. Active and clear communication depends on how clearly we can use our language to convey our infinitely abstract thoughts and feelings.
As a creative being, I've always felt the desire to express myself fully. I have an intense need to experience the world and share it- and the corresponding feelings of doubt and fear. Fear of what I'll create and become in my exploration... fear of what my discoveries will say about who I am...
What will I be defined as?
What category will I be filed into?
Depending on the time in my life, I could 'defined' under countless different roles:
Hairstylist. Artist. Student. Millennial. Sister. Friend. Wife. Divorcee. Employee. Entrepreneur. Blogger. Partner. Step-mom. Coach. Lover. Heartbreaker. Bodybuilder.
If I were more politically active I could call myself a Democrat or a Republican... a Libertarian.
Do any of these categories really truly define me?
Do any of them fully capture who I am?
In the wake of perhaps the most divisive, emotional election in history, I see labels magnifying and people dividing. Labeling and the corresponding judgment from all sides is creating a nation swirling with hate, fear, shouting, and silence. The colors each of us wore at this last election have turned into deeply judged symbols of who we are and what we stand for.
We are all entitled to our own opinions and to the expression of what we think and feel about our world we live in. Luckily, we live in a country where we are encouraged to express ourselves freely!
Just because someone voted for someone that we didn't, or has a different skin color, or faith- just because someone expresses themselves differently than you or I doesn't mean they're bad.
It doesn't mean they're wrong.
If we all thought the same way and agreed on everything how would we ever grow or change? We NEED each other.
We need to be TOGETHER in our differences. We need to strive to understand each other rather than push and judge and divide.
If all we ever see in each other is our differences we're all forgetting the larger part of who we are and what we are worth.
You are entitled to be you.
That means you get to be whoever you are and choose your path. YOU get to decide what your favorite color is. What T.V. shows to watch. What games to play. Books to read. People to converse with. Idols to look up to. Careers to pursue. Religion to practice. Who to vote for.
If someone else chooses a different path, with different things, and votes for someone else, does this make this person bad? Do they not have a right to decide?
Empathy is the missing ingredient in our society: the power of entering into another's personality and imaginatively experiencing his or her experiences.
Empathy links us to others through emotionally stepping into another's shoes.
If someone is choosing something different than you are, chances are pretty good they're doing it for a reason. They believe on some level that it makes sense for their life based on their unique experiences.
Instead of attacking people who think, look, and act differently, why not ask to know them?
If we don't understand someone - why not TRY to understand their story rather than lashing out and judging it as WRONG.
We don't all have to agree. But we do all need to be heard.
If we approached our differences from a place of curiosity and empathy - a want to truly understand other viewpoints, maybe we'd actually make some progress toward a world we can all feel great about.
Are we stronger divided?
So let's come together. Let's stop being so loud that we can't listen. Let's stop judging and start understanding. And if we've been silent, it's time to speak up and be heard. We all want the same things:
We're better than this. Let's open our minds and hearts to something new. Together!