For most of my adult life I wanted to be heard.
I think, if I was honest with you, that for most of my entire life I’ve wanted to be heard. Honestly, I’ve been a writer shouting out that your voice matters and that you shouldn’t be afraid of speaking up. And I believe that. I truly do. Your voice does matter. Your heart matters. Your opinion matters too. You should speak up. You should own your truth.
But being heard? And that need to be heard and understood?
Friends, it kept me stuck.
It kept me thinking that when others didn’t get my opinion and perspective I was small. Unimportant. Questioning worth.
I know, how can that be? But truly, it did. Here’s how: I would fight so hard to be heard, to be seen, to be noticed, to have my point understood by someone else that I would end up frustrated, sad and often feeling alone when they didn’t. And in that loneliness of “why can they not understand me?” I would start to feel that “you don’t matter that much” and “if I mattered they would understand my side” feeling inside. So I thought that the solution would be to be louder or to explain more and more and more or to not leave a situation until I absolutely felt validated in my opinion and thoughts.
Aren’t we told that we are valued when we are understood?
And how can I fight for change if I don’t speak up? How can I be an advocate for “your voice matters?” if I feel like I’m not heard?
Listen: They are not the same.
Speaking up and knowing your voice matters is not the same as needing to be understood.
That’s what I started to discover these last several months.
When I dug my heels in, I ended up causing more friction, more chasms, more ripples of misunderstanding versus understanding. It was almost as if my needing to be heard took away from others opinions and their own need to be understood. I was an advocate for my voice but not the voices of others. Irony, right?
It was suffocating me inside, honestly.
It’s not that I don’t want to be understood anymore. I love it when someone says, “I hear you. I get it.” I mean, who doesn’t love that? But now, I’ve come to this place where I know that no matter what the reaction that my voice, my opinion, my heart matters – approval or not. And here’s the interesting part – the more I let go of explaining and re-explaining and explaining again the happier I became.
Sometimes the most powerful part of speaking up isn’t the speaking up part but the space where you are confident in self more than the approval of others. Confident in your heart but comfortable enough to be willing to set down the need to be heard and to listen to someone else. Confident in silence. Confident in creating connections more than being right.
Sister. Friend. I want you to be proud of your story. I want you to speak up where you need to. I want you to have that courage, that faith, that confidence. And I want you to get to a place where you can step back, listen and be comfortable in who you are and that your heart and opinion and worth aren’t dictated by someone else validating your words.
Seeking validation leaves one empty.
Living with a quiet confidence creates room for joy.
I’m okay even if I’m not understood.
It sounds simple, but it’s profound. It’s the truth. I’m okay, I’m okay because inside I’m comfortable with me. I’m okay because I find joy in listening to others. I’m okay because I don’t need approval to make changes.
Live boldly. Live passionately.
Your voice always matters. Not because of the approval of others, but because you believe in your heart you, my dear friend, matter. Own your truth. Live your truth.