When I was in college, I was at a gathering of women discussing feminism when we landed on the issue of white feminism and why women of color were typically not drawn to the movement. As an Asian American woman in the thick of my own racial awakening, I had a lot of strong opinions on the matter. My husband, then boyfriend, who had listened to me talk at length about the topic leaned over and whispered, “you should say something.” 

I knew he was right. But I was terrified. 

Knowing that I had to speak up as one of the few women of color at the event, I stumbled through words, not sure if I was able to express my thoughts effectively. Sweat dampened my shirt and my face grew fiery red as I spoke. I felt like I couldn’t get it over with fast enough.

As part of the WomanSpeak practice, each speaker does an embodiment exercise before she comes out to speak. The intention of this is to get her out of her head and present in her body so that she speaks from her body’s deep wisdom. At our last meeting, our very first in-person meeting for some of our members who joined during the pandemic, one of the members caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror of the bathroom as she did her embodiment practice. After her talk, she shared that for the first time, she saw herself in the mirror as she got ready to speak instead of her abusive father. 

For many of us who struggle with speaking, whether in front of big groups or one-on-one, we tend to think that there is something wrong with our voice or with us. But the truth is, our voices are buried beneath experiences from our past that taught us our voices didn’t matter. They lie waiting to be heard, masked by someone else’s voice―voices that make us feel small and trapped in our bodies as helpless little girls. 

Our voices are buried beneath experiences from our past that taught us our voices didn’t matter. They lie waiting to be heard, masked by someone else’s voice...

When we finally get out from under those voices, transformation happens. The WomanSpeak practice isn’t just about speaking. It’s about connecting to our deepest truth and recognizing what it is that we want to say with our own voice and learning to communicate that effectively. When we do that, we are able to see our own power and worth. 

It’s what I felt as I went from that college student embarrassingly stumbling through words to seeing the power of my words and becoming a WomanSpeak leader. 

It’s what our member felt as she climbed out from under her father’s abusive voice to connect to her own. 

It’s what happened to another member who was afraid to speak but now sees herself as a leader and became PTA president. 

It’s what a member discovered about herself as she confidently asked for a higher salary at a new job because she finally saw her worth.

It’s why a member was able to admit to herself that she was in an oppressive marriage and finally found the courage to leave.

Our voices are deeply connected to our sense of self and when we connect to that, life can change for us. We find freedom for the parts of us we keep locked up and hidden inside. 

Leading WomanSpeak isn’t just something I do as part of my work. It’s been an integral part of my own journey and a purposeful calling to service other women. I hope you consider joining our WomanSpeak circles if this resonates with you. Joining our program isn’t just about connecting to your own voice but about being part of a community of women who uplift each other, learn from each others’ truths and rise together. 

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Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay.