365 Days of Finding My Voice

When I was a little girl, I was terribly shy. Talking to most people was a physical impossibility for me – I’d rather hide behind a tree than have to speak to my friend’s parents as they opened their door. I was perfectly content burying myself in library books, finding great adventures through someone else’s life stories.

It was amazing to me, as I started my teaching career, that I could actually stand in front of people – children and adults – and actually say something that people wanted to hear. I still have those moments, honestly, when I look out at my classroom in amazement that every eye is on me. Kind of makes me shudder sometimes.

Contrary to many childhood lessons, being shy is not a disability.  There are benefits, of course, but it takes a great deal of self-reflection to discover them.  Shyness means that one can step back, observe situations, and hopefully think before speaking.  Being shy is a great quality for people watching – one of my favorite hobbies.  And of course, being shy allows us to create our own thoughts and opinions without having to share them with anyone else – which would create an opportunity for making a mistake.

First-born children, like me, are somehow inbred to be perfect. Just ask my sister, who came only 13 months behind me.  No matter what I did, it was always subject to great scrutiny as the ‘golden child’.  That’s a mighty high reputation to uphold, for sure.

Living life as a shy, first born of first-borns created an inner determination to break the cycle with my own first-born.  Wanting so desperately for my daughter to have her own voice, however, was really what allowed me to find my own.  

Suddenly I couldn’t hide anymore-I was someone’s mom.  I needed to be the one to speak, teach, and nurture the little voice I had created.  At times, her ‘voice’ nearly deafened me in those early days, but as she grew, we blossomed together.  We both learned to ask for what we wanted, demand what we needed, and express our feelings and beliefs clearly.

So last summer when I let loose this blog, my voice was born.  Surely, it was shaky at best, but it stumbled out of me and landed firmly on the page and kept tumbling and somersaulting and back flipping until before I knew it, I was a writer.  Thousands of others, some as introverted as I, were hearing my voice.  

Over the last 365 days, I’ve learned to trust it, listen to it, and share it.  I’ve learned to pause, ponder and pour it out onto the page.  I’ve learned to watch and heed the commentary it produces, to observe the emotions it creates, and to suspend that inner critic who cautions me that I’m treading on the brink of disaster.

Now that I have a little girl, I’m not so shy.  Talking to most people is not a physical impossibility anymore – as long as I can let my fingers do it for me.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe is a mom and middle school teacher who loves nothing more than watching kids be brave, courageous and navigate the world. Travel along with her as she attempts to simultaneously slow down and speed up time by trusting fate and the global community to teach us life’s lessons.

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Comments

  1. Beautiful! I am not a shy person (as you know) but I have learned that shy people are great to know because they usually are the deepest thinkers. These are the people you can have wonderful discussions with :-)

  2. You keep on stumbling on the blank page with your words, my virtual friend. In you, shyness and all, is a voice clearly meant to sing. Congrats on reaching a year, goes by fast doesn’t it?

  3. I am a shy person as well. I have run into people from my highschool who tell me their greatest memory of me is how shy I was. I am much, much better now, but still working on my voice. I too think blogging has helped. I loved this post and congrats on one year.

  4. Throughout much of the TGC process, especially my own jumping into blogging, you’ve been an inspiration! Congrats on the successes you’ve found over these 365 days. I wish you 365 X ??? many more.

  5. Wow congrats on getting to 365 days, wonderful, I hope you keep going for this year!

  6. So beautifully worded Jennifer. I, for one, am so glad you use your voice to inspire the rest of us. Happy One Year!

  7. Jennifer… I would have never thunk! ;) I too was shy and over came it. I would have to agree with you that it was my children I had to speak up for. As moms we have to. Way to go. Congratulations on your continued journey … because it never ends.

  8. Atta girl! I’m the oldest with a younger brother who’s also 13 months behind me and there’s not a shy bone in our bodies.

    Of my 6 kids, 1 is shy and 1 is an introvert and I’m telling ya, it’s amazing and educational to watch them grow next to their siblings.

    You have an amazing voice my dear

    Sharon

  9. I am also first child and was always so shy. I still am and instead of speaking for my children, they are often the ones doing it for me

  10. Like you said, being shy allows you to sit back and observe. Too many gregarious people are too busy talking, they can never hear what someone else is saying. Finding ones voice has to be one of those rites of passage moments. Brava!

    • I agree with you. It’s unfortunate that so often the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease”, but I’ve found that if I’m not the one always shouting out, when I do use my voice more people listen. Thanks for commenting!

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