And you go though life so sure of where you’re headin’,
And you wind up lost and it’s the best thing that could’ve happened,
Sometimes when you lose your way it’s really just as well,
‘Cause you find yourself, yeah, that’s when you find yourself
~ Brad Paisley “Find Yourself”
I’m always trying to find my way. These songs are just points on the number line continuum; marking thoughts in time to music.
If there’s one thing in life that I’ve learned; it’s that no one else can advocate for me, except myself. By communication. I had been shy as a young girl and many of my childhood friends can attest that I would beg them to speak for me wherever we went. It wasn’t until I was forced to yell LOUD, as a songleader in high school, that I found my voice. An unwilling one.
I hadn’t really known how words could affect a situation and discovered this the hard way. Gossip, it cuts deep. Silence, it isolates. But if I could discover how to find the words to my own thoughts and speak them aloud; I could change an outcome. Most times, for the better. Sing it loud. Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Unwritten” has been my personal anthem since its release in 2005.
No one else, no one else can speak the words on your lips.
Lately I have found my voice. I choose to watch my words. People put down others and make excuses to laud themselves. I usually choose silence; keeping my words to myself until my hubs must hear me. Written words are nice but it is in the face-to-face communication, with another human being; that promotes change. I was reminded that even written words and texts can easily be misconstrued. Misread.
Communication. It goes both ways.
I left work for an hour to sit in a school district board room. The words were one-sided and protocol had to be addressed. Our LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) draft for our local schools was disseminated and I sat there amidst frustrated parents wanting to be heard. But when one person is doing all the talking and not accepting feedback; what’s the point?
I felt similarly when I sat in the very full media center of a junior high last Thursday. Hundreds of teachers attended an evening board meeting to voice their thoughts to elected board members. At one point the microphone was turned off on a teacher whose negative speech didn’t truly serve the purpose. Finger-pointing and blaming incited anger and various dissenting voices echoed in the room. I stood, for approximately four hours, stunned. Negotiations were at a stand still. How can they say they advocate for our students when they put our teachers last?
I continually work on finding my voice. Emails and written words are easy; vocalizing them is difficult. I sat, this morning, feeling that I had no voice. And though I had no agenda besides fact finding; I’m realizing that I have a lot to learn.
When I first discovered I was pregnant I sat in our bookstore reading. I purchased various pregnancy journals and books, subscribed to Parents and Parenting magazines. I could not get enough reading material for my soon-to-be-role as mother. But I, naively, assumed that when my children went to school that there was a well-oiled machine in place. I did my research. We bought our home in a community with high Academic Performance Index scores. I went online to search Megan’s Law to see if child predators lived nearby. I went to the sheriff’s station to request crime reports. Never had I imagined that our education system could be flawed. That the communication process, amongst educational administrators and professionals, could be disjoint; non-existent. Both sides are on different planes.
What has become clear is that I need to stay informed. To do my due diligence and research. To be my children’s advocates. Only then, can I discover what my voice is; to affect change in my kids’ education.
I continue to walk this path in my personal relationships. I say what I mean. I’m done with smoke and mirrors. Just as in the songs above I continue to fight to find my way; to find myself. My voice is merely a whisper right now. But give me time. I will be heard.