written by Molly
Have you listened to Brené Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us? If you haven’t, you should. Brené has a truly wonderful way of making us feel seen and heard, and she has also incorporated guests into her podcast who not only make us feel seen and heard, but they motivate us to see and hear others. I’m a big believer that things come to you when they’re meant to come, so if you’re not in a place to invite vulnerability into your life, then it’s simply not your time. I suspect, though, that if you’re reading this, you’re ok with vulnerability.
One of Brené’s recent guests was Glennon Doyle. Glennon is a writer and philanthropist, and her book Untamed has given me the words to describe the shift from caged and unsure to free and bold that I’ve experienced in the last few years. If you’ve known me for a while, you might have watched this shift. The change has been small and subtle at times, and then at other times massive, seismic leaps into this space where I fully love and accept all of the parts of me. You’re probably asking yourself, “What in Heaven’s Name is Molly talking about?!” Let me break it down for you.
I haven’t always known how to use my voice. There are several contributing factors to this. First, I have not always believed that what I had to say was important. I think that one reason is that I spent a lot of time talking to people who weren’t ready to receive what I had to say. There is a LOT of depth to my soul, and even though I believe we each have a lot of depth, sometimes we aren’t ready to see the deep parts or have our deep parts seen. I want nothing more than to fully see those around me, and I want nothing more than to be fully seen. Sometimes, there’s a problem with that, and it looks a little like this: it takes HARD work to fully see yourself, and it takes a lot of trust and vulnerability to allow yourself to be fully seen. It wasn’t until I found those who wanted to be seen and heard the same way that I wanted to be seen and heard that I was able to fully believe that I was worth seeing and my words were worth hearing.
The second reason is that I’ve often let people with a louder voice talk over me. If you’re part of a large family, or you have a family member with a “big personality,” you probably feel me here. It’s not that my family ever intended to listen to my sister over me, it’s just that her voice is louder than mine sometimes. She’d probably say the same thing about me, though. 🙂 Maybe that’s just how families are, and maybe we need to practice our speaking AND listening skills with our families rather than waiting until we’re out in the world and begging for someone to stop talking so we can have a turn.
The third reason is that the world tries to silence our voice and speak for us. We are bombarded with noise 24/7, and our listening skills are really poor because we are just trying to get a word in. It shouts, “Do this thing; it will make you feel good.” “Buy this thing; it will make you feel good.” “Watch this thing; it will make you feel good.” Here’s the super annoying part: the world has no idea what will actually make us feel good because that is so unique to each of us individually. But what do we end up doing? We do, we buy, we watch, and we rarely make it a point to sit and listen. It wasn’t until my life came to a screeching halt in 2017 (you can read more about that here), that I took a second to stop listening to the noise around me and tried to listen to what was going on inside of me. It’s taken me three full years of HARD work to begin to block out the external noise so I could hear my own voice and begin to use it.
Last summer, on one of those my-life-will-never-be-the-same-after-this trips to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, I took a BIG ole risk and unbuttoned the way-too-tight-and-giving-me-a-muffin-top pair of jeans I had my soul squeezed into, and I put on the most comfortable pair of yoga pants ever. I had been trying to squeeze my soul’s curves into a pair of jeans that simply didn’t fit my ever-changing being, and when I finally set it free, I realized that those jeans had never been meant for me to begin with. They just simply weren’t my jeans! I had always needed the stretchy yoga pants that could move and grow with my ever-changing soul, and I didn’t even know it.
I did a hard thing on that trip, and I spoke words I’d never spoken before. I looked at the 13 faces surrounding me, and I told a story that I had told myself countless times in my head but had never spoken out loud. It felt like my voice was a freshly born gazelle with VERY wobbly legs. It has taken me a full year of using my voice over and over, but now I’m in a place where the words just flow. I have found the people who will listen to them, make space for them, and lovingly challenge me when I need it. My voice is leaping much more gracefully than it was in those freshly-born days, and I know it will only get stronger from here.
Why didn’t anyone tell me this?
Here’s the part I wish someone had told me over and over until I got it: do not let anyone (not your church, not your parents, not your friends, and most certainly not yourself) tell you to be small, or that your words aren’t worth speaking. You were not meant to be small. You were not meant to be confined to anyone’s idea of who you should be. You were meant to be as big as you want to be. You were meant to use your voice, and your voice was meant to be heard. Your thoughts, your ideas, your hopes, and your dreams deserve to be heard and believed by you and by those close to you. There is an unlimited amount of space for you in this world, and that space is yours to take and use however you want to.
Here’s another important thing: if you aren’t being heard and seen by those around you, surround yourself with people who want to see and hear. There are few things that will hinder your own personal growth more than people who can’t handle their own depth, much less yours. If you’re having a hard time finding those people, try to point your focus within. Learn to love yourself fully, and that well-loved light is sure to draw others to you. Don’t ever be afraid to fan the flame that is your soul. Let that fire breathe, y’all. Grow it, build it, let it become a ginormous bonfire, and then gather a few fire-loving friends and have a little dance around it.
May you use your voice and be heard, may you find your perfect-fit pants, may your fire rage, and may you dance around it.