When I was a child, I was told I had no voice.
I’ve spent my entire life believing it.

Trust my voice. This is one of the intentions I set for 2018Trust my voice. If you subscribe to my newsletter, I talked about my childhood and how my parents gave me their shame and silenced me. When I looked into my darkness to speak about this, things started to make a lot of sense… how I always had a hard time speaking up, how I felt unwitty and inarticulate, how I felt my face flush whenever a group of people, even friends, trained their eyes and attention on me when I spoke, how the thought of public speaking made my whole body tremble with fear. Whenever I wanted to say something, my internal dialogue, my story, would tell me…

Why would anyone want to listen to you?
What you have to say isn’t important.
Your voice doesn’t matter.

There is so much pain in that internal dialogue. An inherent lack of self-worth. I remember my dad recounting the story of my shyness as a child. He said when I was in kindergarten in Korea, he gave the teachers money, a common practice, so they would pay attention to me and call on me more often. I clung to this story and would tell my friends I was shy, to which they’d laugh and reply, “no, you’re not.” It wasn’t until recently that I let go of this belief.

I am not shy. I want to be seen.

I am a woman who craves true connection and authentic relationships. I am a woman who knows I am worthy. I am a woman who knows I am enough. And I know my voice, the one that was silenced so many years ago, is the source of my power. I know my voice matters and I have something important, meaningful and inspiring to say. But the fear is still there. It is in the way my body responds, trained over the years, to feel fear — putting a knot in my chest, making my body shake and sweat, weakening my voice, making my eyes well with tears. But in walking my path towards my life’s purpose, I know in my soul I must speak. Trust my voice. So I do what scares me. I take a women’s speaking class. I put myself out there to make new connections and I speak my mind. And I speak in front of a large group of empowered women.

I have to keep facing my fears and making myself uncomfortable because that is required when you’re on your path.

Last Friday, I attended the F-Bomb Breakfast Club which is a large group of women entrepreneurs who get together every first Friday of the month at the ‘ass-crack of dawn’ to discuss challenges and rally each other on. My friend told me about it last year but it wasn’t until my younger son started kindergarten that I was able to attend regularly. I usually stand in the back, barely making it in time, and observe. While the format changes, there is always a speaker or panel and then the last half hour is spent in small groups talking on a lead topic. It is intimidating to me, especially when we break into smaller groups and I have to speak. But I keep going. I’m meant to be there. I have to keep facing my fears and making myself uncomfortable because that is required when you’re on your path. My gut tells me what to do and I listen. My gut told me I needed to speak in front of this group. So last Thursday, I contacted one of the organizers of the group to tell her I wanted to speak about fear. I don’t know what exactly I wanted to say but I know that’s what I needed to do and I had something valuable to give. After typing the message, I didn’t want to send it but I forced myself to do it. Then the fear came. I got that familiar knot in my chest, this time becoming an actual physical knot in my muscle, and I felt overwhelmed. But instead of resisting or shrinking away from it, I followed my intention to lean into fear and sat down.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I closed my eyes.
I breathed into my fear.
I let myself feel it.
I did it until it quieted down.

The next day, I attended the meeting. As the first meeting of the year, it was all about setting goals. I talked about one of my goals to lean into fear in the small group discussions. At the end of the meeting, the coordinators asked if anyone wanted to talk about their one goal and if anyone had a request for topics for future meetings. I wanted to speak but my body said no. I watched woman after woman line up to talk and knew I had to get in that line but felt paralyzed. Then I watched another woman get up, say how terrified she was of speaking, and it inspired me to get in line.

I spoke.
It was only for a few minutes but I shook. I cried. I spoke my truth and requested we talk about fear as a topic.
And everyone listened.

Afterwards so many women, some I knew and some I didn’t, gave me hugs of encouragement and acceptance. I found the woman who inspired me to get up and thanked her. She hugged me and told me I made her day. ThisThis is what going on your journey is all about. To speak your truth, to connect to yourself so you could connect authentically to others, to support one another and propel each other forward.

Oprah gave an amazing speech at the Golden Globes this Sunday. The ceremony, usually light and full of glamour, was more austere in response to the #metoo movement. She said,

“In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”

I too believe in this brighter morning, brighter day, brighter time because I believe in it for me. Which means I believe in it for everybody. No matter our darkness. No matter our past.

I don’t know if my speaking on fear will happen at F-Bomb or not but that’s ok. I trust it will happen if it’s meant to be and if not, it will happen elsewhere. Remember my last post, the one where I said I’d be on a TED stage one day? It will happen. I just don’t know how or when, but I believe.

When I was a child, I was told I had no voice.
I’ve spent my entire life believing it.
But now, I believe I was silenced so that when I found my voice, it would be powerful.
So, I speak.
And I trust my voice.