How This Insane Election Season Helped Me Find My Voice

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By Jillian Stacia

It’s been a rough political season.

Like many of you, I am tired. Like many of you, I am outraged. Like many of you, I am disgusted and appalled and anxious and annoyed and intrigued and exhausted. I am ready for this election to end. November 8th cannot come soon enough.

But despite the drama and the horror, this election has been a bit of a turning point for me. I will forever remember this political season as the moment I finally decided to speak up.

You see, I’ve always been a people-pleaser. It’s important for me to be seen as likeable and agreeable. I chase approval, I always have. I love gold stars, recognition, pats on the back. I love the feeling of being liked. Frequently, so very frequently, I give up who I am in service of becoming who others want me to be. I compromise for likeability, I edit for approval. Too often, I walk around like some weird caricature of myself instead of bringing my true authenticity to the table.

This doesn’t get me anywhere. Being likeable for the sake of being liked isn’t sustainable. It isn’t real. And I can’t keep it up.

I began craving my own voice. I desperately wanted to start speaking my mind and becoming the woman I wanted to be- the woman I already knew I was- a woman of purpose and substance. But in order to do that, I had to make peace with the fact that not everyone will always like what I have to say. Not everyone will agree. Some may stop liking me altogether.  And for someone who has been conditioned to hate conflict, who prides herself on being liked and respected, this can be a difficult pill to swallow. What do I crave more: being liked or being seen? Whose opinion is more important: others or my own?

It’s embarrassing to admit, but the desire to be liked frequently wins out. Approval trumps authenticity. It’s easier to be complacent, to remain neutral. So often, I hear coworkers or friends or family saying rude and inappropriate things, and I let it go. I don’t interrupt. I don’t correct. I just absorb it, take it in, act natural. Time and time again, I find my own beliefs, my own opinions, being bulldozed by the opinions and beliefs of others. And it’s not because they are forcing them, it is because I am allowing it. I am not speaking up. I am not defending myself. I am not honoring my truth. I am remaining passive. Out of fear. Out of ease. Out of habit. So often, I choose being liked over being authentic.

It’s why I love and admire strong women. I am attracted to their authenticity, to their courage, to their realness. I grew up in a family of Leo women. They are strong and passionate and forceful and sometimes they hurt you with their truth. But they never waver. They stand firm in who they are. They do not compromise themselves for approval.

I think it’s human nature to struggle to make a change until you become too uncomfortable with your present reality. It’s easier to stay in a mediocre job than a crappy one. It’s easier to settle for good enough instead of reaching for great. But when things are bad, when the shit really hits the fan, change becomes inevitable. The pain is too much. You are forced to do something different.

This election season, and Donald Trump specifically, was the shit that hit my metaphorical fan.

I could no longer stay silent out of fear of upsetting others. There was too much at risk. Things were too bad, to painful, too important. The need to speak up, to say something, was too strong to ignore. I had to be me- and not the likeable caricature of me, the real, authentic, flawed and imperfect and vulnerable me. I had to own my voice and rock the boat and I had to do it all with the knowledge that I would be making other people incredibly uncomfortable. I would be disliked. I would be mocked. I would be judged. But it was worth it. For me, this election was worth being disliked over.

So I wrote about the election. And then I wrote about it again.  And again. And, let’s be clear, I pissed some people off. People defriended me on Facebook. I was blocked on Twitter. I have never, ever been so disliked by such a large amount of people and I have never, ever felt more like myself.

I am so very proud of how I behaved this political season. Not because my writing was recognized, but because I found the courage to speak up in a world that is so determined to silence me. I found my voice, and I was brave enough to use it. I did not abandon myself to make other people more comfortable. I was respectful, but firm. I did not compromise. I came back home to myself.

One of my favorite books this year was Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. As I was reading it, I found myself in the pages, particularly in this passage: “My daughter and I pay attention. We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be. Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world. Every girl must decide whether to settle for adoration or fight for love.”

Finally, after years of settling for adoration, I am fighting for love. Except this time, it’s love from myself. I am no longer playing small. I am speaking out. I am playing big. I am stretching and challenging and growing and expanding. I am not just speaking my truth, I am screaming it from the rooftops.

And ironically, what it took for me to get to this place of courage was a misogynist bully trying to keep women small. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thank you, Mr. Trump. Thank you for being the ultimate tipping point, the catalyst for my growth. You forced me to find the courage to be who I’ve always been. You were the push I needed to speak up. And you’d better believe I will be using my newfound voice all the way to Election Day.


Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

6 thoughts on “How This Insane Election Season Helped Me Find My Voice

  1. Cheryl HOOK says:

    I ,too , have struggled to find my voice during this election year;however, one thing that I have observed on my many more years on this earth:

    people are so involved in their own truth that your truth barely registers with them….soooo speak from your heart freely and proudly.

    Like

  2. polymath0 says:

    Wow, this is great. I just subscribed to this blog yesterday because it felt relevant to me, and this was the second blog I’ve read. I love it, because it is exactly how I feel and what I’ve gone through this election too. I’ve been defriended on Facebook as well, but because I’m saying important stuff. Now, I’m taking people off, when I never thought I would. I struggle with the desire to please, but I find supporters of a bigot who convinces his fans to “beat the crap out of her,” meaning an African American woman, or a man who has been taped talking about how he mishandles women…well, I find those supporters to be dangerous to me and those I love most. This election taught me to speak up against the bully. Thanks for posting this. I’ve felt alone as a speaker when most people just want to plug their ears and yell, “lalalalalaaa.”

    Like

  3. bohemianhumanist says:

    I love this! I’m not even an American but this is pretty much global news. If Trump wins, I sense the end of the world will be nigh….happy voting North America!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. vazius says:

    THANK YOU for sharing this! I want to second everything here with a resounding–yes! I have struggled so much with this idea of when to stay silent and when to speak my truth. Finally, it clicked for me like it did for you this election season…what next bit of my integrity am I going to exchange for the approval of others? Especially when those people don’t think twice about speaking their views loud and clear.

    Like

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