I am still thinking of a comment made by Susan Madsen, Ph.D., last week at Utah Valley University.
At the conclusion of the evening where Valerie Hudson, Ph.D., and Sharon Eubank both spoke on the power and importance of voice, Madsen said she had just talked separately with two women about the need for their voices and their leadership. They both told her that was not their role. They were not supposed to use their voices. They were not supposed to be leaders. That was their husband’s role.
I have been asked many times how I get my husband to “let” me do things. How did you convince him to “let” you run for political office? How did you get him to say OK to you returning to school? Is he OK with you writing strong opinion pieces? How did you get him to let you adopt? (As if you can “accidentally” adopt.)
Let me say this as clearly as I can. There is no “let.”
We are partners in our relationship but he is not the boss of me. And I am not the boss of him.
In some ways, I get it. If you are an adult woman, you probably remember being a little girl and told to tone it down. Maybe, like me, you heard that you were too bossy or too loud or too big for your britches or too opinionated or too intimidating or “too” something else.
I bet that little girl who knew who she was and what she wanted got lost somewhere along the way. You learned to shush yourself. To fit in by being quiet. To define yourself in relation to others, rather than embracing you.
You were someone’s daughter, friend, neighbor or employee. Maybe you became someone’s spouse and someone’s mother. You may have even convinced yourself that it was “not your role” to have your own opinions, not your role to speak up when you saw injustices, that “someone else” would do the speaking. Someone else would deal with the injustices you saw while you deliberately silenced yourself.
Well, sister, I say it’s time to find your voice and start speaking up. No fairy godmother is coming to tap you on the shoulder — or to speak for you. Remember Elsa in the Disney movie “Frozen 2”? Her sister sings to her “Step into your power. You are the one you’ve been waiting for.”
You might not feel ready. You might not feel you can write or speak in the way you’d like. Well, the best way to get better is to get started. My first posts on my “Holly on the Hill” blog were a lot different than the last ones. My first articles for The Salt Lake Tribune three years ago were not the same as the ones I write today.
My very favorite quote is one by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” I promise — you will get better but you have to get going.
That spark that was there when you were a little girl? It’s still there. It may have been buried by the “shoulds” of life, by what we mistakenly believed we were “supposed” to do or not do, but I am confident it is still there, like a little pilot light ready to be fanned into flame.
Brené Brown wrote “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”
Own your story, sister, and then please share it. We need your voice. It’s time to let it be heard.
Holly Richardson is a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune.