Carrie recounts and reflects on how she gradually lost her passion to speak up and be heard and now looks at how she owns her voice today.

For some time, I felt lost about my “voice” being heard. In my youth, I was very aggressive and loud online. I voiced my opinion like facts. I wanted to be right all the time and my views were what I thought were “right” and true to me then. In being this “outspoken” fiery person, I was very full of life, very passionate about my “causes”, but also very angry and full of angst. I always felt like a need to “defend” my stand. I always felt I was open to being “attacked” and I also rejected alternative views with a simple statement, “they wouldn’t understand”. I had a view about everything and looking back, I have always had that power within me to win others over, persuade them and get them fired up.

One of my ex boyfriends was so honest with me and he told me point blank that I was such a sweet and agreeable girl offline, but a total bitch online (not in his exact words though, this was nine years ago) and he wasn’t comfortable with this. I took offence and I did not entirely agree with him – I rejected that feedback. Then after some introspection, I started blaming myself.  I blamed myself for not being “good enough”. I said things in my head about how he couldn’t accept me. I led myself to believe that in this entire life event, the takeaway was that I was a lousy person who made mistakes. Looking back now, I’d like to shake myself by the shoulders and say, “What could be different? Move on!”

Over the years, my angst turned to indifference as event after event happened and I did the same thing. Victimise myself and then tone things down a notch till I was a bland, agreeable person. If I had an opinion, I would tone it down till it was palatable, “acceptable” by the masses, and then maybe add a positive spin to it, so that I would look like I was doing it “right”. That I was a reasonable, logical and person who could be trusted. I lacked that connection to what I felt for and even if I did feel for it, it was always so reactionary. Damn it, let me just take away all that energy and anger. No one would respond positively to that. I manipulated my views to fit the popular generally acceptable consensus.

Now and then, there would be a flicker of fire. Like a spark, especially when I felt strongly that I needed to protect someone else, speak up for someone else. But then when I did it, I would ask myself – Why couldn’t someone else do something about it? Why did it have to be me? Why can’t everyone stand up for them instead of complaining. Blah blah blah!

I was stuck in a cycle of indifference -> sharing of my manipulative mambo jambo view -> spark regarding a passion point -> measured outburst -> resentment -> indifference.

After keeping my “emotions in check” for a long time and reaching a level of indifference that I made out to look like patience and understanding, I thought I was doing things right. But all I was doing was really ignoring making comments on Facebook or wherever and just avoid even having to reject anything in the first place. Just post positive quotes and if something I read made me feel angry, I’d just piss myself off and then tell myself to respond only if I could be calm about it.

I’m really not saying that this is wrong or anything, but I just felt tired and really quite grumpy doing this to myself. Plus I spent way too much time in my head telling myself that my view wasn’t wrong. Kind of ridiculous that so much was going on beneath the surface and I lived with that.

Recently after attending a self-improvement and discovery course, I finally managed to find my voice again and make a stand again but this time acknowledging that regardless of right or wrong, there are different view points and what I need to make a distinction about is WHY I feel so strongly about it and if it comes from a place where my focus in inwards towards myself (making myself look good, smart, right) or if I’m focusing outwards (bettering others, making a stand for my world). There’s a difference and what makes it impactful, what makes it truly important to me.

The journey is hard to summarise in one single sharing on, but right now I realise that it’s not so much about having my views heard, but about who I can raise up with my words, who can I inspire with my voice and if I do what I do, it is not for me, but for others. As abstract and overly “Mother Theresa” as this is starting to sound, I believe now that I have the power to change the world and that change won’t come from others taking that step, but from ME. Not a ME that doesn’t make mistakes, but a ME who looks out and remembers why that fire burned in the first place and not to allow the other distractions to extinguish that flame. Instead of complaining, instead of commenting only, how can I reach out and be the change I want to see in the world?

I CAN speak up. I CAN share my views. But I do that responsibly. Not because I think I’m right or want to look right, but because it needs to be said and not just say it, but connect so much with it, that I make that first step beyond just a comment or a “LIKE” to leading by example and producing a result.