I have a real problem with speaking up sometimes, particularly when it’s something worrying or shameful or contentious. My hardwired habit was and often still is to keep quiet in these situations, as if voicing them gives them life.
Let me say that I know this isn’t the case. Reason and experience has taught me that in actual fact, voicing my concerns, actually extinguishes them or at least causes them to fade. But still… avoiding vulnerability is as natural to me now as wearing socks and brushing my teeth, so speaking up takes a real conscious effort.
Cut to – a few weekends back, I met a lovely friend (Z) who I hadn’t seen for months, for a catch up. When we met, I’d been feeling really anxious over the last month, about many things; about everything really. I’d felt particularly anxious about a shelter-building day that I was due to run, weighted down by the self-doubt and impostor syndrome that strikes every time I attempt anything remotely different to what I usually do.
As I spoke to my friend, the inner dialogue started up, telling me that I shouldn’t say anything about this;
that I could or should just deal with it on my own, like a grown up;
that she had enough on, without listening to the series of problems I made up in my own head.
And then I ignored all of that, and just told her how I’d been feeling.
As always, I felt better immediately – lighter – less serious. I remembered that everyone feels like this when they venture into new terrain. And I re-found my favourite mantra of, ‘whatever happens, I’ll handle it.’
Even better, Z gave me number of a relative who works in bush-craft, and over a ten minute call later that day, this lovely lady melted all of my worries and concerns about shelter-building. She even invited me over to Sherwood Forest (shout out of Robin Hood fans!) where she helped me even further amidst the stunning woodland backdrop. She even loaned me some hard-to-come-by resources!
My foray into shelter-building is just around the corner now, but my anxiety is reduced to a manageable, ‘normal’ level now. And really, it’s largely in-part to the support of a stranger; support that I wouldn’t have received had I not allowed myself to be vulnerable.
It’s hard to know you’re in one of those ‘sliding doors’ moments when you’re actually in one; the moments whereby your choice to do one thing or another, leads you down a completely different path of consequence.
But it’s clear to me now that this was one of those moments.
And I’m just really glad I spoke up.