Say

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I have Bloggers Block.  (which somehow sounds less significant than writer’s block, weirdly)

This would not be news (and arguably still isn’t for most folk) but for the delicious irony that 14 days ago I handed in 40-plus pages of a dissertation entitled: How do I sound? Finding my voice; showing up in organisations and life.

When my voice starts to falter. I pay attention these days. I pay very careful attention.

My story is I lost my voice for a while – I left organisational life to become a freelance consultant and lifestuff happened at the same time (as it has an annoying habit of doing) and I found myself unsure about who I was, what I offered, what I stood for… I was mean to myself about how I sounded. Really mean. As in derailingly so.

And slowly I realised I couldn’t speak well – couldn’t articulate what I actually thought to clients, in my family, even at dinner with a group of almost-strangers one evening I found myself agreeing with stuff that I fundamentally questioned. I was “faking good” left, right and centre, pretending I was alright, denying I was afraid that I wasn’t a “proper” consultant when everyone else seemed to know what they were doing, turning up at friends’ birthdays wearing a big smile and neatly avoiding any conversation that would scratch my veneer. (I could give out tips on how to appear present without actually showing up at all, if I thought those tips were in any way useful or purposeful) … and my soul was shrivelling up, I retreated deep within myself, locking off my ability to speak my own words. I got very small.

Honestly? It is shit when you can’t speak. Apologies for the vernacular, but I’m saying what I mean here. Voicelessness is deeply, annoyingly, frustratingly terrifyingly, soul-destroyingly rubbish.  I don’t know how else to describe it. When I was a kid, I remember that saying “shut up” was deemed to be really rude. Now I’m older, I get why:

Shut up.

Close off.

Lock away.

Don’t speak.

Don’t be in the world.

 

It’s insidious.

So I’ve been working to get my voice back. To speak up and speak out – on paper, via the blog, on Twitter, a little Linkedin Group discussion stuff, a little Facebook Ta Daaaah-ness. I’m working to be frank and clear in my family. I’m trying to be more open and honest with clients – saying what I see and feel with authenticity and care. I’m experimenting – what happens if I say?

I don’t mean I’m experimenting with saying every tiny thing that comes into my head. I’m not into over-sharing or being casually cruel through sharp-end “honesty” – but if you catch me relaxed and full flow and these days I err toward the “this is how I see it” over the “hmmm… well.. I can see what you mean”… and voicing yourself comes with a different set of challenges and responsibilities from those posed when you are mute.

Less said, soonest mended and all that… but I’m learning

So I am denying my bloggers block. I’m refusing to cave into my fears that I’m not writing cleverly enough, or not making some decent, massive, organisational/L&D/ HR point and therefore somehow I ought not to be blogging under a professional guise.

Because part of what I do now, is get folk to say. To speak or write or draw or snap images on phone cameras… What IS it that you are not saying – the thing that grips you deeply and holds you silent?

Bloggers block?

Who, me?

11 thoughts on “Say

  1. The pressure we sometimes put ourselves under is worse than the reality. These thoughts in our minds become more important than the actual things which we know to be true and what we actually do.

    At various points in the year I experience the same as you’ve written. I want to write something but then so much is being said, and some of it really well, that I wonder what I’m going to add to the mix?

    Then I force myself to put pen to paper and get back to it. I write to share my thinking. It may resonate with some, and it won’t for others. It will be shared by some and it will be left alone. This is part of the nature of writing and in particular blogging.

    I’ve always enjoyed your writing, and think that actually you articulate yourself very well – and always have done. Even if you’ve been fronting a facade, I’ve never felt I didn’t hear your authentic voice.

    • Hey Sukh, thank you… the facade stuff was happening more before I started on Twitter & blogging. PLaying on SoMe was part of me experimenting to speak, to hear well and to be heard.
      I think some of what resonates is that I might not be liked or seen as relevant – but saying what I feel to be true or know to be true irrespective…my intention is never to hurt or alarm, but to provoke thought in other ways…..

  2. Really enjoyed this post, Julie.

    I find it really easy to fall into the “will anyone even care” trap. For me, it’s the way my self-doubt surfaces. I’ve not done anything much creative in the last 5 weeks, mostly because of pain, and now have got into a little rut-let of doubting whether I’m capable, whether I can make a difference, whether my voice matters. It happens so quickly, subtly.

    Please keep writing. And struggling. I think life is in the struggle, somehow.

    • I hear you…. so this is when I’d say Sing it, Shout it, Write it, Draw it, Dance with it until it’s quieter & more knackered than you are.
      Hope you feel better… time to catch up soon, I suspect?

  3. Hey – I’m with you on this one! I have been blogging for 7 years! Sometimes I feel really annoyed with myself that I can’t find something to blog about and at others I am overflowing with ideas. Sadly though – for reasons that are not too clear to me – I can’t write at the abundant times and store them up. Tried that and when I went back to read the drafts I had saved they no longer seemed relevant. Initially I was writing content to attract attention from Google. Now I have a large archive I give myself permission to write when I think it will be worthwhile. Cycles, stages, moods, intention, inspiration…all coming into play here I think.

    • Love this Jackie – properly having to work with the Muse – there is an excellent Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk on that somewhere…
      You are part of my story – such a larger part of me even thinking about blogging came from your confidence and championing the medium….

  4. Someone once gave me a good piece of advice: “Don’t compare your inside with other people’s outsides”. It takes a special kind of openness to put your inside out there, as you do in this post. When you do, I think it helps all those other people who are feeling a lot less confident and accomplished than they look on the surface. That’s a good silver lining for a cloud of Blogger’s Block!

  5. Hi Ken,
    My mate Malin on the AMOC course said that to me once – it has been a quiet mantra for some time.
    I’m OK with my insides out, sometimes… I write because I can, because I want to, because there is something deep in me that wants to hear other people speak too….
    Silence is not always golden..

  6. Thank you for your blog Julie. I’m coming out of an environment where being my authentic self was not acceptable. Even as far as being told not to say what I do outside of work because people won’t understand it or might find it intimidating. The result? I feel like a shell of a person. Now I need to work out what my voice is and be confident in that. Reading your story, you, me, we, are not alone in finding a voice.

  7. Pingback: Best of the HR blogs October 2013: 19 great HR blog posts from October 2013 | XpertHR - Employment Intelligence

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