One of my earliest memories is of starting school, I was surrounded by children and other adults that didn't speak the way I spoke, and I was afraid. I stood painting at the easel wanting to go to the toilet but too scared to ask, so nervous that my strong Bajan accent wouldn't be understood. Needless to say I didn't make it to the toilet but stood in embarrassed silence with a small puddle beneath my feet, the puddle spoke for me. I remember being taken into the bathroom and changed into a ladybird print pair of underwear, being told that it was ok to ask. At the time I must have thought, yes it would be ok to ask if I were at home, it would be ok to ask if I sounded like you, but I'm far from home and I sound like me, so it's not ok to ask.
I never did ask, that day by wetting myself I had learned where the toilet was without asking, so the next time I just walked to the toilet without a word to anyone. I wish someone had taken the time then to explain to me that my voice was special because it was a part of who I am, a part of my culture and a link to my family back home (Barbados).
Until recently I took that attitude into my adult life, I would make a mistake and learn from it rather than ask for the fear of sounding stupid. I would stay quiet in large group situations because I didn't want anyone to misunderstand me and I would keep my ideas and opinions pretty much to myself (only sharing with those closest to me.)
Yesterday I proved to myself that I could not only ask questions, but could communicate my ideas well, be listened to and understood. I attended the ABCD ideas fair and shared our teams ideas for further Women Know Your Worth projects. Our ideas were met with a positive and encouraging response, we will now be applying for funding for our community project and are excited about the future of our cause.
I am really enjoying this phase of my life, no longer a twenty something and awkward confused in my own body, trying to fit in with those around me. I'm thirty something and loving the me I have become and embracing the whole of me, claiming back my identity rather than being the shadow of those around me.
Is this what happens as you get older?