Welcome to the first ever guest post on my blog. I’m so excited to share this with you guys. Jenai is a fellow Antiguan who I follow on social media; upon coming across one of her photo captions I felt the need to share her message. I decided to hit her up and ask if she’d like to develop the caption more to be featured on my blog. Thankfully she agreed, so here it is! Hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget to spread the love (share the post) and share your thoughts below (comment).
If you continue to swallow your words,
you will drown
– SPEAK UP
Whenever I am uncomfortable, I am tempted to go back to my old way of being, that is based in fear and trauma. But when I find myself wanting to retreat back into myself, I think of this poem I wrote and I don’t.
The funny thing is that I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I was the boldest person I knew.
When I was younger, I was not afraid to speak up. I was not afraid to stand up for myself in any given situation. You could say I was fearless. I remember standing up to my grandmother when I was about six years old and using HER phone to call my mom to tell her what I had said, right in front of my grandmother. I had that kind of spirit.
When I started hearing comments like, “Your voice is too loud”, “Please shut up”, “You’re so full of yourself”, it began having an effect on me. I decided to lower my voice to speak softly. At times when I would go back to ‘Loud Jenai’, I would be reminded of that and would immediately stop talking. When I was 14 years old, I stopped speaking for two days. I didn’t say anything! But, Monday came and I had to go back to school. When the teacher is speaking to you, an answer was required. I thought well if I’m too loud, I just won’t say anything. There was clearly no balance in that approach.
From ages 12 to 17, I was around people who were at least three years older than I was. They didn’t want to hang out with me and didn’t want to include me in things. I felt left out a lot. So I hoped if I just didn’t say anything, they would be more willing to have me around. That was when I first moved to America. I had no friends at first and although I eventually made some friends at school, those friendships never left the classroom.
I began to speak less and less. I didn’t want anyone to hurt my feelings because of something I had said or how I had said it so I just “sat there and ate my food.” I was also afraid of looking stupid or unimportant. I was afraid that what I said did not matter. I was afraid of being viewed in a way that I didn’t want to be viewed. I was afraid of being wrong even when I knew the right answer. I was scared that somehow I could be wrong and would end up being embarrassed. There was and sometimes still is this voice telling me, “Who are you to be speaking on that?”“What do you know?”“You’re not that smart.” So most times, I would just listen and observe. I just wanted people to like me.
It has taken me some time to unlearn those habits that make me feel less than. It has taken me time to re-love those parts of myself that others thought were too much, but I am learning to be patient with myself. Because in truth, I am an intelligent and passionate person with something to offer the world. I have the right to speak. I am learning that even when I am afraid, I cannot allow my fears to stop me from living my best life. What I have learned is that there is a time to speak and there is a time to listen and observe, and I will know when it’s time to speak by paying attention to how I feel. If my reason for remaining silent is out of love and respect, I honor that and remain quiet. However, if my reason is based in fear, I force myself to speak because that is when I need to speak up the most. Lives have been saved because of someone’s decision to speak up. That is how important it is. It reminds me of a poem by Nayyirah Waheed that says,
“when i am afraid to speak
is when i speak.
that is when it is most important.
— the freedom in fear”
Do not be afraid to use your voice and even if you are afraid, use it anyway.
You never know who is listening.
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Featured Image: Pixabay
8 responses to “Guest Post: Speak Up – Jenai Charles”
[…] zone. By being out of that zone you also learn things about yourself. You’re forced to speak up and present your ideas; ideas which may bring about […]
This was so powerful! I was just writing in my journal today that it’s hard to have two conversations at the same time. One with the person I’m trying to talk to and the other with the voice in my head that’s telling me that I’m stupid and that no one wants to listen to what I have to say. I really related to this post and it also made me think of the ways I might silence other people without meaning to cause them harm. Loved this guest post! Would love to read another by Jenai.
[…] twice right? In case you’re lost, check out my previous post where Jenai did a guest post on Speaking Up. What I didn’t mention however is she’s also an author and so much more. Read on to […]
Great post, Jenai! Being an introvert, I was very quiet throughout school. When I think back to being a kid, I don’t remember being so quiet until I got in maybe 2nd/3rd grade. I love the message of speaking up. After being told a lot in school to speak up; especially, when it came time to reading aloud, it got annoying. So, I just spoke up, but not when it came to voicing my own opinion and what I believed in. I haven’t done that until recently. I must say, it is very rewarding to not only speak up but speak out. Shut fear all the way down.
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Very enlightening! 🤗🌻
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Love this piece ❤️
Couldn’t agree more…!
Great work and so powerful!
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