I have struggled a lot in my adult life with something that I never expected to become a struggle.
When I was very young, my family told me that I did not talk. Almost at all. My older sister, Jacey, used to tell my parents what I wanted because I simply did not say. Then, in the rare occasions that I did state my wants, it came from, well, “my tummy”. I used to say “My tummy wants this” or “My tummy wants that”. I have even heard that my tummy wanted to watch movies but you get the idea. A little later in life, I began to speak; this is where my parents say “and she hasn’t stopped since”.
It’s kind of true.
However, the older I get the more I notice how I’ve started to hold back. In high school I felt confident. I grew up in the same school from 7th grade through senior year. I knew who was who, and I had a great group of friends. I was in a variety of activities between sports, dance team, and choir. I was working hard to achieve what I could and felt like I was in a great place. This is where my words were pretty much at their height. I loved meeting new people, I loved performing on stage, and I loved being a part of the conversation. This came to a halt my junior year, after I had my first panic attack.
When people say that, it seems like a very dramatic happening. Let me just say that panic attacks can happen in many different ways, and I have experienced a few, but the first one I had was about as scary as they come.
I was supposed to give a speech in a technology class. I remember telling my friend that I wasn’t feeling good and he laughed it off saying “You just don’t want to go up there.” I mean… He was right, but I really was feeling something I’d never felt before. As I went to give my presentation I struggled to breathe deep. My chest began hurting and I felt light headed. The second I said my last sentence I asked the teacher if I could go to the nurse. I ran down there and began hyperventilating. My family took me to the ER where my hands were unable to move, I couldn’t stretch them out anymore, and my blood pressure was so high. After some medication to relax, he began to tell me that it was, in fact, just a panic attack.
This is something that had been building up. You see, even though I was pretty involved in high school and had really good friends, I am what you could call a “profession people pleaser”. I found out that although I love performing in front of thousands of people, I could not find myself to talk in front of a room filled with 15 students. Why? Simple actually. When I am performing, I am saying someone else’s words, singing someone else’s lyrics, and dancing someone else’s choreography; however, when I am giving a presentation, those happen to be the words that I wrote. It became personal, and with that I sought out the approval of others in my words.
So we’ll flash forward to college auditions. When I auditioned for my college’s musical theatre program, I did not get in. This was a huge hit in the stomach. The place where I felt safe, secure, and at home I suddenly was not good enough for in the standards of this program. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a LONG way to go, but it was devastating nonetheless. All of that confidence I felt saying other people’s words and everything? Now that confidence was gone.
I don’t say all of this to be a downer. I say all of this to show the road that led me to where I am, doing what I’m doing: writing about why my words have meaning. I re-auditioned for that program, made it in with a double major offer (I definitely only lasted in the musical theatre department but it was a fun experience), and graduated with my degree in what I dreamt of for so long.
After college I took a couple of contracts with theatre companies in different states, one of them being New Hampshire. I fell in love with the people, the theater, and more importantly the free time I had in-between shows on weekends. I read so much truth and started to find a little love for writing. On the plane ride home I was listening to some praise and worship and reading a book thinking “God, please show me what I need to be doing. I love this craft but I still feel like there’s something more.” As I sat there I felt God tell me “Your Words Matter.”
This is why I led with the hard times. This is why I needed you to understand why I felt I had lost my voice. I have craved to share stories since I was a little kid, and life was hitting back telling me that my voice didn’t get to have a place at the table. People were telling me that I wasn’t good enough. Speaking my words and singing my own songs were become anxiety filled.
But God was saying my words mattered.
This is the life that I am creating with the words that God has given me. I believe that everyone’s words matter, and I’m displaying mine to share what I know to be true.