For years I was plagued by shyness. I couldn’t find my voice. Actually, I did know my voice, but I just wouldn’t let it out. I don’t know why I didn’t speak in certain situations. Fear probably, but fear of what? Of being wrong? Of ridicule? Of punishment? I never understood why I kept quiet when I so desperately wanted to speak.
I can remember the feeling well. The teacher would ask a question and I would be yelling the answer in my head but would not speak. I would be in a group of peers and they would be involved in a discussion. Once again, inside my head I would be joining right in, but I would not speak. It was agonizing. I felt like a failure on a regular basis.
This carried on into my early adult life. I was in a small class in college where discussion was a major part of our grade. I wrote beautiful poems and journal entries and always scored well on tests, but did not get a good grade in the class because I wouldn’t speak during group discussion. I would know the answers, but was paralyzed by this cruel shyness.
Though I didn’t speak, it did not mean that I didn’t have anything to say. I had plenty to say. I just couldn’t get it out.
I am over 50 years old now, mid-century. The shyness that once kept me silent has dissipated and a vibrant woman full of opinions has emerged. I now speak freely in public. I sing in front of an audience. I talk on microphones. I command the attention of a room full of people. The web of silence that had me trapped for most of my life has finally fallen off and I feel free.
I have recently realized that not only do I have a powerful voice, but my photography and art speak loudly as well. I channel my feelings through my photography. Confusion, confidence, hesitation, determination…all of these emotions are released through my art.
I am sad when I see a woman hang her head in shame or let others lead her opinions and actions. I know how it feels. But I also look with pride at my daughter who knows how to use her voice and isn’t embarrassed by her beliefs. She doesn’t suffer from the shyness I once had and I am so grateful for that. Seeing confidence in other women is so empowering to me now.
My most recent photography has centered around women and the vast array of feelings, emotions, and actions they possess. It is a visual representation of my personal struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin. The posts I make here now are all part of this series, aptly called Woman Has Something to Say.
It’s been a long time in the making, this voice. Now woman has something to say.
Amanda , October 2015