Learning to Speak

I’m outgoing, or at least I’d like to think I am. I can play the role well enough, anyway, the title character in a multi-act play that is set to run for eons off-Broadway. And I guess that’s all I could ask for before. But now… now I feel like I’ve simply been grandstanding, pretending to be the man who speaks his mind. When it really matters, though, what do I actually say?

I’m just going to come out and say it. I have a hard time saying things that matter. Maybe it’s because I’m always so concerned with how others view me. Perhaps I’ve gotten so good at playing the devil’s advocate that speaking what I actually feel has become a daunting task? Sometimes I blame my writing skills for the marbles in my mouth. Why say it when I can write it?

That’s gotten me into trouble before, though. Like the time I…

  • broke up with someone over email
  • explained my financial dishonesty over email
  • wrote a letter to explain my verbal issues
  • wrote a scandalous poem about a friend
  • ended a friendship over email

When I can write beautifully crafted prose explaining myself, when I can go on for over 1000 words putting every essence of my soul into the written word that I feel will always save me, why should I make the insane effort necessary to sit down and talk to someone face to face? Well, because of the reactions to each and every one of those written missives above. That’s when I realize I’m a coward.

To write down words that I should speak instead makes me worse than the characters I write who cheat, lie, and steal to get what they want. They embrace their baser instincts. They rely on what has always worked for them in the past to get them through whatever they’re going through in the present, never learning from their mistakes, and hurting others in the process.

So I’m learning to speak, learning to open up my mouth and, despite the butterflies, get it out there in the open. So there can be feedback. So the other person can look into my eyes when I speak my truth, whether that truth be positive or negative. Other people deserve that much, if not so much more.


2 thoughts on “Learning to Speak

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  1. It is definitely a challenge for some to speak up, and a challenge for some to know when not to speak up. Finding a balance is key, but you won’t find it until you stand up and say what you need to say. You have to start somewhere. If you have a problem with your service at a store or resturant, make it a point in that moment to tell them what’s on your mind. Why are you unsatisfied? Explain what happened, and how you feel. Then the ball is in the other person’s court. If it helps, try giving someone positive feedback in a situation you would normally never think twice about saying anything. An example would be receiving good service somewhere. It doesn’t have to be exceptional service, just a positive experience. Breaking bad news is not always easy, but it’s a skill that is good to have. One day you might find yourself with your only method of communication is your voice. Good luck! Don’t forget to come back here and use those gifted skills of writing to let us know about your Speaking Up experiences.

    1. You make a compelling point (or five) and it’s spectacular to hear from you again, but it’s just so hard not to say what I think people want to hear. It doesn’t help that I’m a good writer because that becomes a crutch I’ve leaned on for too long in situations when I need to speak up. I’m working on speaking more and you can be sure I’ll be back here to share my results!

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