There I was sitting at the hotel bar surrounded by my new found friends, whom I had only met a few days earlier. We had bonded over long work days in the heat and unplanned adventures around the city. This had earned me a few free drinks courtesy of my new pals in honor of my 29th birthday.
As I sat there silently among the sea of loud and proud people around me, the man at the corner of the bar who had been sipping on Jameson all night offered to buy the birthday girl and her friends some shots. Immediately, my friends all chimed in with their shot orders and suggestions, while I continued to sit in silence. Eventually, the man leaned in, looked me straight in the eyes and said in a thick Norwegian accent, “It’s YOUR choice. It’s YOUR birthday. Speak up. Don’t be shy. What do YOU want?”
That man bought me and 7 of my friends Lemon Drops. He even offered to share his Jameson with me to get my birthday off to a roaring start. Still, it was his advice that I will remember most.
“Don’t be shy. Be proud. Be proud of who you are.”
Mr. Jameson had a point. While my voice runs around freely inside my head, demanding to be heard and shouting out opinions and ideas at all hours of the day and night, it rarely has the opportunity to be heard by other people. And when I’m surrounded by outgoing men and women who are not afraid to make their voices heard, mine dwindles to a quiet whisper that gets lost among the noise. With my voice silenced, I merely fall away into the background, doomed to be an extra in film and real life. But while I may not be winning any Oscars, we all deserve to have a featured role in life, especially our own.
I’m grateful to Mr. Jameson for reminding me that sometimes it’s okay to speak up for what you want and need. You see, it’s those people that do who usually get it. The rest of us are left standing unnoticed in the background lamenting our lack of fortune.
So the next time you’re sitting in silence, remember, your voice matters. You matter.
We are not meant to fade into the background never to be noticed. We are meant to add to the discussion. To voice our opinions. To speak up for our passions. And to make our voice known. We don’t have to be loud. We just have to speak.
Do you have trouble making your voice heard? What do you speak up for?