It’s Time for Me to Shut Up
I’ve always been the loud one. As the only girl child in a family of six, I had to be loud if I wanted to be heard. The mere graze of stick (when wielded by a sibling) would elicit a wail in the same decibel range as a tornado siren. I won most arguments through sheer volume and persistence. But as I grew, I learned that in addition to scarring eardrums, my resonant voice could cut through the din and touch people.
2017 will forever be in my mind the year I grew up.
As I moved through the school system, I was the friend in the crowd stomping and hooting as you crossed the stage to accept your award or approached the mic to tell the student body why you’d be a superb treasurer. Moving into my twenties, I was the boisterous cheer at a crowded party, calling your name and inviting you to join a conversation already in progress. I made the best wingman, because mine was the loud laugh that alerted fellow patrons in the bar that you were their most witty and charming prospect for the night. In my thirties, I returned to my tornado siren tendencies, shrieking warnings to stay on the sidewalk, to not touch the stove, and to avoid a floor blanketed with shattered glass.
…my life experiences are not indicative of my fellow Americans.
But now, only just dipping my toes into my forties, I’ve become uncharacteristically quiet. 2017 will forever be in my mind the year I grew up. The presidential election, and its aftermath, startled me into adulthood more than my first apartment, September 11th, or even producing children of my own ever did. It taught me that half of my country believes I am less-than because I’m a woman. It taught me racism, bigotry, and hatred are more rampant and deeply ingrained in our society than I could have begun to comprehend sixteen months ago. It taught me that my life experiences are not indicative of my fellow Americans. It taught me I need to listen. With the New Year, I will raise my voice again. But never again at the expense of someone else’s truth.