For the several years now I’ve been on the fence.
Only occasionally dipping my toes into the arenas of stage and page.
Well, no doubt in part due to my beliefs about my own self worth.
It’s no small thing to be the loudest voice in the room.
Elevated on a platform, amplified with a mic and lit up with lights.
Some years back I learnt just how influential words can be, and that power wielded without responsibility, has a tendency to burn.
Around the same time I also learnt, that when you take a stand for what you believe in, and that belief is a threat to the dominant narratives at play, you make yourself vulnerable and people will go to great lengths to shut you down and lock you up.
While I narrowly avoided my body being locked away,
evidently, not all of me escaped confinement.
Over the last 7 years, my voice has been dampened and diluted by a cage that I became complicit in creating.
Truly showing up in this world is a scary prospect for many of us. With so much uncertainty, the risk can be paralysing.
So instead, we play it safe, play the game and play ourselves down, to fit into the shallow stories that society sells us.
I mean, how are we supposed to keep up a steady stream of consumption if we start to feel complete?
These quite years haven’t been a complete loss though.
I’ve gotten much better at listening, something this world seems to be sorely starved of right now.
Otherwise, it would be hard to ignore the multiple crises that seem to be stacking up daily. It’s daunting, I know… but we can’t pretend everything is going to be OK if we wrap ourselves in our abundantly available, comforting blankets of distraction.
Learning to listen, has been invaluable in my quest to know what to say
and must continue to be a central practice in my life as one who is willing to speak out.
So today, I’m leaving the fence and unlocking the cage around my voice.
This is my pledge of presence.
To myself and to the world.
There’s power in vulnerability.
An honest sensibility,
That cultivates the courage
To stand strong
The worthiness in weakness,
Is Potential for progression
That acknowledgement can teach us.
Much of my life,
I’ve felt separate in a way.
Less a lone wolf,
Than a misfit stray.
Always on the edge of things.
– A safer way to be.
Rather than risk the repercussions
This inner me.
To be judged for who I am,
Not the mask I feel I show.
A shrunken version of my value,
A filtered foggy flow.
I’m done pulling punches,
while the Planet implodes.
I pledge to be present,
Through fierce fire
& snapping snow.
I will wield this power,
That pulses in my veins.
Even with everything to lose
And nothing left to gain..
Coz, what worth is there to living,
When cut off in a cage?
The fear is unforgiving,
But I was born to bless this stage.
Inscribe my insecurities
Of insufficient bluffs
Into volumes of volition.
A validity –
In acceptance we find freedom.
A freedom to be loved.
Photograph by Joyce Nicholls