As Charles Wright, and my mother once said: “Express yourself!” For some people, expression comes easily like how water flows from a spring, or someone recalling a funny story over the family dinner table, with no hesitation. I, on the other hand, cannot see a more daunting task than having to put what I am thinking, feeling, or seeing into word for people to hear. Expressing oneself isn’t as easy as one makes it seem. It requires vulnerability; that people will accept and understand what you are trying to share.
In addition, that they won’t dismiss your words, while you’re in the process of attempting to put them together. It calls for attention; from one person to a full auditorium, I’m still figuring out which one frightens me more. Finally, and most importantly, expression requires the ability to translate thoughts and emotions into clear and understandable sentences not only for you but the one receiving the message too, with the confidence to speak with them. One needs to choose the precise words and put them together, which comes easily to most, for me, not so much.
Choosing words is similar to deciding what show to watch on tv, I just don’t know. This isn’t to say that I lack the power to come up with thoughts and ideas. My mind goes through many inquiries and ideas, like anyone else. While growing up, I was labeled as ‘shy and quite.’ My parents begged me to tell them how my day at school went, or the teachers asked me to participate more in class.
I guess one of the other reasons was that it was hard for me to say everything I was thinking off. Like when a teacher asked a question, I would know or have an answer, and I would be on a roll and then start to fluster out of nowhere and end up being quiet. It was just hard for me to say what I was thinking. Also, the reason why I wouldn’t want to answer, is that I wouldn’t want to be wrong, like who would want to be.
People often assumed that the reason/problem was not that I didn’t want to. But that isn’t the true reason, it was because I felt that I couldn’t –I struggled with the fear of being laughed at or getting shut down, for not being able to clearly formulate a sentence. My fear isn’t unsupported, as when I was younger, my fellow peers would poke fun of my speech impediment. For example, even when I would clearly state whatever I had wanted to say, they would either imitate what I would say or continually ask me to repeat myself, simply because I couldn’t properly formulate my word and because it was different to theirs.
I guess, the reason was that they didn’t know or understand how to handle hearing someone that didn’t quite sound the same to them, or did they care that laughing at the way I pronounce my R’s could affect me the way that it did. Even when I would get into verbal fights with my older sisters, the one way, they would easily win was either a remark on my sentences or with a quick laugh at my speech impediment. It was these small actions which were enough to discourage me from wanting to speak or express myself, something that was already hard enough.
As the years went on, I started to join clubs such as The Boy Scouts, and a youth leader at my local synagogue. Both, these roles require an expression of words, with a strong, and unwavering voice that emits leadership. I would have to put my fears aside, and slowly give into this fear of expression by doing the very thing I struggled with- communication. As a Boy Scout ascending to the rank of an Eagle Scout, I couldn’t escape the daunting role of expressing myself; In which, effective communication skills were an essential part of climbing up the ranks in this organization.
Now, that I was an Eagle Scout and Senior Patrol Leader, it was one of my responsibilities to organize troop meetings, events, activities, and the annual program planning conference. My most important job is to teach the younger scouts the tools and skills needed to be a proper Boy Scout. We drill in them the Edge method, which stands for Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable. It was then that I realized with Boy Scouts that expression with words is not always necessary, although it is important; I can express myself with proper actions, such as effective leadership and serving as a positive role model to the younger Scouts. Express yourself! I’m certainly trying.