For the month of February I am exploring the topic of Selective Mutism. Yesterday I wrote about my talents – and how embracing them has lead me away from focussing on the traits I’m not so happy with about myself. Today I am going to talk about determination – and the ways being selective mute has helped me to succeed.
“I could never do what you do! You speak so naturally!”
I love it when people tell me I’m a natural speaker – for me it is definite proof about how far I have come. Of course, other people have no idea how difficult it was for me to stop my knees from knocking for those first few minutes (unless, of course, I tell them, like I’m telling you here) but if their perception is that I’m a natural speaker, then I’m obviously doing something right!
When I was small I longed to be able to speak the words that my heart couldn’t quite translate. I longed to be able to tell everyone what I had to say. I dreamed of the day when it would be easy for me to do this.
I simply didn’t think it was even a possibility for me, and so for many years I steered myself in the opposite direction.
To move forward, you must leave the past behind
A few days ago I recorded my first ever podcast, and on it I revealed the reasons why I want to be a speaker – and how I felt when I first realised that this was an ambition of mine. Since joining Toastmasters, I have spoken to many people who openly admire me for doing so.
The thing is, since being selective mute, and being described as ‘quiet’ for so many years when it just didn’t feel right, I found myself in a place where I couldn’t not do it – if that makes sense?
I realised that I had suppressed myself for so long that it hurt. I had hidden myself away, and found every possible reason to stay there.
All of those reasons sucked.
I had tried staying small, and it was getting so uncomfortable in there that I knew I had to do something radical. My choice was either to become even more uncomfortable in my comfort zone, or leave it behind and feel exposed, vulnerable and stupidly uncomfortable.
I didn’t like either of them, but I chose the one that had new options. I began walking away from my past.
It’s funny how, in leaving something behind, you get to view it in a whole new light. As soon as I turned away I was able to gain fresh understandings about myself and my life. I began to see the lessons my situation had held for me – and one by one I learned them. I thought that by turning away I would be leaving my past behind. Instead, I got to claim all the gifts that had been hiding inside of it.
Determination can get you everywhere
I have spent a lot of my life feeling that I would never be able to truly speak in many situations. Although I could say some things, they weren’t necessarily the things I wanted to say. I want to turn this around and experience the other side of it.
I want to be able to walk into any situation and speak openly and honestly. I want to experience my truth as I speak; I want passion and purpose to come through my voice.
I have been to the bottom of this equation – and this is a place where misunderstandings rule. It is a place where I felt small and insignificant; unable to be myself.
Now I want to see the other side of it. I think, because my speaking journey has already seen so much, I have a huge amount of determination to succeed. In part, I want to prove myself – but more than this, I want to experience the joy that open communication brings. If it wasn’t for having experienced selective mutism, I’m fairly sure I would settle for a much more comfortable option. As it is I want to go full circle.
Honour yourself and your ‘Why’
I teeter on the edge of my new comfort zone today, and expand it at a gentle pace that doesn’t leave me overwhelmed and running back to my old self. As I am ready, I give myself new goals – like blogging about selective mutism, and exploring more talking opportunities by creating podcasts. It is important to me that I don’t dive in too quickly – and in doing so freak out and lose touch with my reasons for creating all of this.
I am, first and foremost, a sensitive creature who needs to feel safe. I now understand that pressure and expectations create exactly the opposite – and so along with my determination to succeed, I must also honour my need to stay balanced.
It feels wonderful to be able to sit here and proclaim that I am grateful for the contrast – and the determination – that selective mutism has given me. More and more I feel like the natural speaker I am described as from time-to-time. Without my past, I’m not sure I would have the drive to take it further. As it is, I’m incredibly excited to see how far I might go!
I’d love to hear if selective mutism, or any other condition, has awakened inside of you a drive to succeed with something? Please feel free to share in the comments below – and do sign up for my newsletter if you would like to hear more from me!