By Sharon Krueger
When I was four, I remember being in the kitchen with my mom when the milkman came to the door to make his delivery. My mom had her hands full, so she asked me to have him also leave some eggs. I walked up to the screen door and watched quietly as the milkman placed the fresh milk in the wire container. However, as I watched, I became increasingly fearful. So fearful, in fact, that I remained silent as I watched him finish up his delivery and walk away.
Looking back, I feel like much of my life has been living with this fear of speaking up. I always felt like there was something wrong with me because of my quietness. This seemed to be perpetuated in high school.
When I was a freshman, I sat in the quad area next to an upperclassman, and I remember being intimidated by him. After some time together with minimal conversation, he turned to me and said, “You would be so boring on a date.” I was embarrassed and hurt! Consequently, I added the label BORING to my identity.
Many years have passed since then, and I have worked hard at being more proactive in social situations. Later in life, I returned to college to finish my bachelor’s degree, and the experience brought me face-to-face with some of the fears and insecurities that gripped me all those years.
This pivotal time started in 2008 when I attended my university’s opening convocation as a transfer student and full-time employee. The speaker quoted Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner’s stating that “we must forget being afraid so that we only have room for the truths of the heart. For without universal truths any story is ephemeral and doomed.” His words stirred me, and I claimed them for myself. I vowed that in my classes I would not let the fear of what other people might think get in the way of me sharing what was truly inside my heart. This was a liberating process because it affirmed in me that what I had to write was worth reading and could be beneficial to others. This was so powerful!
I graduated with my BA degree in 2012 fully equipped with an emerging voice and greater confidence. Yet, I knew I also needed to develop my public speaking skills, so I joined a Toastmasters club. I was confident that my experience would be equally as liberating as the one in college. With every speech, I faced my fears and insecurities and received encouraging feedback that helped me to chip away at my old identity and emerge with a new one.
In 2017, I completed my MA degree and have been soul searching for new ways to make an impact in the world beyond my classroom and workplace. I wanted to be prepared for such a time as this, just like Esther from the Bible was called to speak and impact the lives of others. With my developed skills and greater confidence in both writing and speaking, my journey has led me to this digital space to meet people like you and to help others to grow!
I am eager to discover the adventures that await us! I am glad we are on this journey together!
Let’s start a conversation!
What label have you internalized that is hindering you from moving forward?
What steps can you take to begin pushing through those fears and moving towards who you were truly meant to be?