When There is Support for Speaking Up

When I wrote a post about what it takes to be a 30 year old single woman in today’s world, I was not prepared for the deluge of loving words filled messages that ended up in my inbox. Although I did not intend for it, my blog post happened to have given voice to countless people like my present and past self. I did not expect my inbox to get filled with so many personal stories shared without any inhibitions by people far and wide. I was told, by reading my story, they figured it was ok for them to let their guard down as well. To say I was moved by their courage and the trust they placed on me with their stories is an understatement.

Every story shared had the same message – that no matter what, I shouldn’t regret anything about my choices, make the most of my current life and keep smiling while relishing every moment of it.

I have never been afraid of speaking up, in fact I am quite notorious for the same and have earned enough enemies for doing so at many a juncture in my life. But this time when I spoke up through my blog, I honestly did not expect to receive so much support, love and encouragement. Some of them quite tangible and quantifiable even.

The love did spill over from the virtual world into the real world. I have had strangers walk up to me and tell me how my writing resonated with them beyond measure, met a couple of friends who I had lost in touch with, reunited with some of the uncles I grew up with, who no longer judge me for my singlehood, got added to WhatsApp groups I was once denied entry to owing to me being single and I don’t know if I am imagining it, but I think I get fewer sympathetic glances now, than I used to before I wrote that blog post.

Through these small but significant gestures, I tasted what acceptance really feels like and I couldn’t be more grateful to all those souls who opened up to me with open hearts and open arms. Maybe this is a start of something big, or maybe it’s just another fad that would soon disappear into the back of people’s minds and everyone may even get back to being their old selves (so far it has not happened though). Whatever it is, I am glad it got some people thinking, talking and empathising. And, as an outcome, I am feeling a little less defensive about being who I am.

As I embrace my new acceptance filled singlehood, I can’t help but wonder about the privilege I have, on being able to choose and embrace singlehood, which countless others in India and in the world over are denied. The privileged position has little to do with money, and more to do with the support extended to anyone willing to show the courage to speak up. Even today, there are many hesitant to walk out of abusive marriages and many others who submissively agree to weddings despite the atrocious demands imposed on them. Having been in an abusive relationship myself I am grateful that I am not one of them. But it wouldn’t be right for me to just gloat about it and rub it on everyone’s face. I want to do something about it from my position of privilege to help prevent even one person from getting into the vulnerable situation I was once in.

I remembered an incident from my school days when my favorite teacher had remarked that it’s only when we muster the courage to speak up in classrooms and express our opinions would we have the guts to speak up as adults, when we see injustice being played out in front of our eyes. For a bullied, self – doubting kid, it meant a world to be told that my opinions matter and that I had the potential in me to be able to speak up. That incident laid the foundation to making me into who I am today, I guess.

Maybe I could start there, by vocally supporting the concept of speaking up in a similar setting. Armed with the course materials from several public speaking classes I have undertaken in the US and in India, I have decided to be the rock to the pre-teens I share my apartment with, the way my favorite teacher once was to me. I have decided to embark on the journey of becoming a public speaking coach for the kids in my society to help them find courage to speak up coherently. Although my intention is to make them courageous speakers, I am sure they could become good public speakers as an outcome. I could be wrong, but I am willing to give it a shot. Putting up my new year resolution on a public forum is my way of holding myself accountable with the hope that this would drive me to action unlike the way my other resolutions in the past have ended up.

While I believe I would be able to impart some knowledge to the kids, I am sure I will be able to learn much more from them and I am very much looking forward to the same. Would love your thoughts and ideas to engage with the pre teens better.

To a more fulfilling next year!

Featured Image Credits : https://unsplash.com/photos/ojVMh1QTVGY

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