They’re moments of YES!! They’re moments of rush.
They’re moments of pride and validation
They tell me that what I’m doing is worthwhile and meaningful.
They reassure me that being vulnerable, that being true to me is the WAY to go.
The posts are resonating with members of my awesome Personal Learning Network (PLN).
their encouraging words are resonating with me – big time.
As I look in the mirror, getting spruced up for the day ahead, the words reverberate.
My eyes tear up as I’m transported back in time, like it was just yesterday.
It’s my final year of High School (before University)
I’m getting back an English essay….
Yet again I’ve failed big time.
- Time and time again, I hand in an essay.
- Time and time again, I hope against hope that this’ll be the one to pass.
- Time and time again, it doesn’t happen.
I fail English, and a number of other subjects.
Failing outright my not-so-final year of High School.
My English teacher, at the time, comments that my writing is STILTED and unclear.
It’s a word (‘stilted’) that’s stuck in my mind over the years.
And it comes back again – front and centre now – in front of the mirror…
…just as I’m feeling particularly chuffed that people have not only taken the time to respond to my blogposts – but have viewed me as a ‘writer’ – and encouraged me to continue writing as ME…in my voice.
High School (Years 7-12) had been a challenge for me.
‘Stilted’ writing – hmm, not surprising really.
Ongoing Bullying – Isolation and Loneliness – Hiding myself – Censoring myself –
Covering Up – Shutting Down – Turning Off.
“It’s little wonder …. look at the way, he walks and talks.”
[The School Administration response – when I finally reported the bullying.]
I ‘survived’ those years.
Yet there was toll…and it impacted big time in my writing – in my not so final year of High School.
Being me – being truly me – it didn’t seem to be an option back then.
And so what else was there to write?
Wrestling confusion, questions, self-doubt, self-hatred….
…impacted on my capacity to think through issues, and write clearly with a sense of flow.
‘Stilted’ writing – hmm, not surprising really.
And so, still at the mirror (Yes I do have an elaborate Facial routine!!), the contrast between THEN and NOW is STARK.
Nowadays, being true to my voice:
- to a voice that I was struggling to find – a voice that I knew deep within was not acceptable back then…
being uniquely me in all my weird and whacky manifestations (well, most of them):
- manifestations that lead to beatings, abuse, or ostracisation back then…
- manifestations that are at the heart of my inner strength – determination – and relentless perseverance….(which were being forged in my High School years, although I didn’t realise it at the time)….
………………………helps me find my Tribe and build connections | ….helps me make a difference in the issues that matter most to me… | lets me know that I’m bloody okay as ME.
It means that the flickering flame within me – gets to see the light of day.
And that’s critical to ME THRIVING.
How to be True to You
Insights, Realisations & Tips
1. You are not an island
Know that what happens in your world, along with who and what you engage with, can impact on your capacity to sing your story.
What you produce or what you give back is impacted by your everyday situation. It is linked to your capacity to be who you are.
Having said this, I know that impacts aren’t universal. Put a number of people in my high school experience – and there’ll be different impacts on their school outcomes.
2. This is not how it will always be
If you’re feeling confused, stilted and unclear. If you’re hiding or censoring yourself. If you’re wondering if there’s a place (or places) for you:
- know that this time now isn’t the end point;
- know that how you view things now – how things seem isn’t set in stone;
- know that there are others like you – others who will eagerly welcome your voice.
3. If you speak up about what’s happening to you – and people don’t listen – don’t let that be the end of the matter. Continue to seek out others who will act.
Here – in terms of self protection – you may need to do some observational research. It’s critical to know who’s going to be the most appropriate people or organisations to contact. This idea leads me into my next point (Be vigilant).
4. Be vigilant
Tune into the worlds around you – for others likely to ‘get you’ – for others that draw you in and inspire you – for others likely to be supportive, as well as challenging when necessary.
- Listen to people’s language – what they talk about – how they discuss and respond to the issues that matter most to you;
- Listen to how they engage (their manner, their disposition);
- Tune into the feelings you have when you’re in their presence (online or in person);
- Look at who they surround themselves with.
5. Dare to connect
Write to someone, initiate a conversation, reply to a tweet that draws you in …
My daring to reach out – going beyond the ‘she’ll never write back to me’ churning through my head – had powerful consequences for my well-being (Thanks Maria).
It ultimately lead to me honoring my sexuality. That in turn, enabled me to start making a difference in matters that were pivotal to me, and connected me to a world of inspiring education activists.
6. Put your voice out there
Once you find some potential spaces, where others like you gather, speak up.
If you’re hesitant, maybe tickle the surface of the water first. You can always ramp up as you go – revealing more and more of your true colors – as your voice starts to resonate.
For me in terms of online connection (Go Twitter Go!), I’ve found that being vulnerable, taking a risk, and daring to reveal more of me – has lead to deeper connections.
It seems to kick things along faster – in terms of drawing people in. There’s a sense of trust because you’re willing to be out there as You – in all your chaotic messiness.
Being OUT there – can also have the effect of repelling people but that’s okay as well. If your message aint resonating with some people maybe you’re not meant to connect. And it’s not necessarily final – maybe you’ll connect on other fronts.
7. Get out or build bridges elsewhere
If you’re finding yourself almost totally closed down – get out if you can. I do realise here that finances and a whole range of issues can come into play here.
Alternatively, start two or three timing (as I discussed in my post 5 Ways to Get from Survive to Thrive).
- That is, connect with supportive others with whom you can be your true self whilst continuing in your regular job. Be vigilant there’s probably some allies on staff.
- Over time, strengthen these connections thereby opening the door to being true to you, on a more constant basis.
8. What are your tips, insights or realisations about – How to be True to You and Letting your True Colors shine? Let us know in the comments box below.
Support and Resources
- Taking care of you is key. I wrote a series of posts all about Empowering You. They’re filled with tips and strategies.
- Surviving is important but Thriving is critical. I wrote some posts about how to Thrive.
- Check out Helplines in your country:
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender, Intersex (GLBTI) Support Services – Check out the Resource Section of my hiding who you are post.
In writing this post, I wish to acknowledge:
- Sister Nance, for seeing something within me – for offering me a new school beginning – and a way out of STILTED writing. Big cheers too – to my SJC classmates – with whom I could start afresh.
- Maria, for opening the door to a world I’d never known.
- GLBTI Activists – who inspire me – teach me – work to improve our human rights, and make our world a safer, more welcoming place.
- Simon, for encouraging me to take risks, and push beyond what’s safe and comfy. For asking hard questions.
- My Twitter Personal Learning Network – who fuel me, who ignite me, who stir me up, and encourage me to be ME – in my many voices.