A long time ago, I had envisioned my memoir to be titled “The girl in the corner”.
At the time, I was enamored with the fact that I was an outsider. That nobody really could understand me. But interestingly, in truth, that wasn’t who I wanted to be. The title was meant to represent my uneasy silence, as a result of being afraid of what other people said to me. My belief then was that being silent was better than not speaking up at all. It also too was representing how I wanted to have my back protected, perhaps with walls. And also at a location that allowed me to observe everyone freely.
I want to honor my thoughts of my younger self. But I could not do that title. Because is the girl in the corner really who I am?
Today, someone mentioned (like many have mentioned in passing), “You don’t seem afraid of public speaking.”
My dear, you’re so wrong.
It’s not that my fingers would tremble. It’s not that my voice would shake. It’s that my voice was never loud enough (cue people yelling me to speak up, but anxiety would keep my volume too low; thank you for the invention of microphones). It’s that my words tumbled out as incoherent sentences, and I was worried that people would ask me to clarify, but I couldn’t clarify to their satisfaction.
Until one day, I realized that people don’t care. Most importantly, I started hating it when people spoke for me. I wanted to separate myself—to put my anxious self to sleep while operating my conscious, intentional self on stage. I didn’t like when someone didn’t express clearly what I wanted or how I believed the words should be stated. And that was when I made the leap.
Because nobody could express my thoughts and ideas better than I could.
People often say that I am super talkative and friendly in person. But I don’t know how I cultivated that. They don’t know how much I had struggled in school in building and maintaining friendships. How futile my attempts were in saying “I like your pen!” because I had read in a self-help book that would be a key to starting a conversation. The self-help book didn’t provide any instruction to what happened to the opening statement. But the interesting thing was that it didn’t matter.
I tell myself that I want to do what I love. That I hope by doing what I love would be impactful to someone out there. I am Jenn. I am not defined by the past. But rather the future. That’s the story I tell myself now.