You were right

I nearly failed kindergarten.

It's a family joke that my mom had to visit school to prove to the teacher that I knew my colors (yes that was required to pass back then).

My teacher wasn’t sure, because I didn’t speak.

It’s not that I couldn’t, I just didn’t. I would if the situation required, but otherwise I’d silently take in my surroundings with my big blue eyes and shyly giggle and play.

Only now do I realize the lesson I learned that day in school. I learned that to be a good girl, to make my mom and the teacher I respected happy, I had to speak.

Not a terrible lesson you might think, but to a child it meant that being myself, being silent, was bad. And that is terrible.

From that early moment on my life took an interesting turn.

Subconsciously I decided that if getting the attention and love I wanted required clear communication, then that’s what I’d do.

It’s not like I was telling jokes overnight, but bit by bit I worked my verbal muscle until...well I’ve worked in the field of communications for more than a decade. Point proven.

And now I see what I’ve lost by taking this childhood lesson too far. I lost connection to what makes me special.

In my silence, I could read a room, understand a situation, know how I felt and respond with thoughtfulness and patience. Qualities that serve me well as an adult when I stop talking to tap into them.

My goal for 2011 is to unlearn this lesson. To trust that what I know works best for me, and to allow myself to silently take in my surroundings and speak when I’m called to do so. Not because I have to.

For you I hope this story is a gentle reminder that:

  • If you find yourself “trying” to do something that feels against who you are, it probably is. Trust what works for you, even if it doesn’t for anyone else.
  • The lessons you learned as a child may have worked then – I entered first grade just fine—but may not serve you anymore. Let go of rules that limit who you are.
  • There are people in your life who have meant well, and were wrong. My teacher isn’t going to apologize to me for what she did, but I can still tell that blue-eyed little girl that she was right. She was always right. And you were too.

Here’s to reveling in the silence, and in what makes you you.