(Spoiler: You’ve always had a voice, ready to use)
Hello friends, readers, and those who just happened to stroll across this page on the ever-lasting Internet,
I am writing this on a Saturday morning in July that is surprisingly bright and summery. It feels disingenuous to share those aesthetically-pleasing details with you but not to share this: I am also listening to my ‘Easy 00’s’ playlist and am still in my Stranger Things pyjama shorts, even though on weekdays I call this time of day my lunch hour.
This day last week I was excited to see two of my best friends, both of whom have achieved such incredible highs in their careers lately, that I was ready to celebrate. Prosecco, cake balloons – I was prepared. As expected when surrounded by people for whom you feel only love, our time together was blissful. It involved Frozen II and strawberry daiquiris at 2AM. It cannot be denied that there is something about the nondescript time between night and day that inspires an honesty in us to face what we can rarely admit in the daylight hours.
Please note that these girls are my among some of my closest friends in the vast Universe and they enhance my life so much. Still, no matter how close you may be with someone, there is always more to learn about those you love.
Inhibitions forgotten, we began chatting about the scenarios we envisage for ourselves in the world, everything from the fanciful thoughts of Twilight obsessed teens we once were, to the thoughts that now help us sleep as we plan for careers, families and whole adult lives while still feeling like children. I am not unfamiliar with the notion that humans create many scenarios in their minds, either to imagine the life they strive for, or to live a life they never will. I have been employing my imagination in this way for as long as I can remember. However, I expected the imaginings of three women who have grown up and been educated similarly to overlap more. Well, we couldn’t have been more different.
When my friends told me of their scenarios, I realised the common themes that filled their desires were different from my own. Not bad, but simply different.
The conversation began by discussing who our favourite Disney princess had been as children. One of my friend said that she always adored Ariel from The Little Mermaid, to which I tried to hide my distaste – I’ve never enjoyed a girl giving up their voice for an, at best, mediocre man. My other friend did not have a favourite, though she expressed that she had really enjoyed Pocahontas as a child. When they asked me, I decided to be honest.
“I used to think that I was particularly white-washed as child, admiring only Aurora from Sleeping Beauty or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My imagination was stunted when it came to Pocahontas or Mulan. Now, as an adult, I have examined my thoughts and I realise that I only allowed myself to admire Disney princesses that I could change myself enough to become.”
I tried to explain my logic. Or lack thereof.
No amount of pixie dust would make me Chinese or a Native American woman, as a very white, Irish child. Yet blonde, that I could manage! Thin, of course, was a necessary prerequisite to be worthy as a woman, that I decided would be challenging but I could achieve. Naturally, I needed to be intelligent too, but this seemed less important to my child’s mind than the physical attributes.
You would be forgiven for assuming I got over this as I moved out of childhood and became an adult. I had thought so too, until our 2AM conversation veered from Disney to the scenarios we still create in our minds and the secret stories we tell ourselves.
My friends create scenarios that tell me plainly that they desire a life a love and contentment. I do not laugh at this, instead, I think it is the more balanced and noble of wants. Especially, when they asked me what inner stories I tell myself and I had to admit that mine were largely concerned with success, or achievement. Love, too, but always as a secondary theme. Does this make me a terrible person? The Slytherin of the friend group? Maybe. I don’t care. I am done with anything that does not honour the truth of who I am.
I told my friends of a word that I had learned of and fallen in love with recently and I’d like to share it here too. It might be the closest I have come to finding true understanding in the world for who I am. The word is lachesism.
Lachesism can be described as thus; ‘the desire to be struck by disaster—to survive a plane crash, to lose everything in a fire, to plunge over a waterfall—which would put a kink in the smooth arc of your life, and forge it into something hardened and flexible and sharp.’
Now, I see that my ‘lachesism’, which I have experienced since childhood, does not come from an inner, rather warped desire to feel pain or experience trauma, but rather from an innate knowledge that I will survive and can survive anything.
The knowledge of an inner, rock solid foundation of worth within me is a superpower I will no longer deny and therefore I am done putting myself on mute.
I no longer wait for the world to offer me a platform to showcase my strength, I no longer grow weary from the waiting of an acknowledgement that my words have worth. Not when I now understand that everyone’s words are worthy of an audience.
If the thought that perhaps there is nothing wrong with you, mentally, spiritually, physically, is radical to you, I invite you to look outside of yourself. The world is wide and full of wonders, all of which desire your attention. Give yourself a chance, give yourself a portion of the love you show others.
I invite you to try to choose your Self in all things, to foster your most important relationship by honouring the voice you have always had. Take yourself off mute. Your life is your platform, your lifestyle is a performative example of self-love – act like it and watch your world change.