Who’s voice do I represent?

Humans are often very self-conscious, poorly motivated, selfish individuals.

Yes, this is an incredibly blatant over-generalization; but it is, I believe, an important one. When we find ourselves in situations of incredible pressure many of us crumble.  We curl up on the couch with a tub of bon-bons (god, I love those), pic our favorite, sleaziest drama, and we hide from the pressure.  Don’t believe you’ve ever done that?  Here, let me start.

My senior year of college I found myself having to write the longest paper I had ever done – no less than 40 pages – and by the way, my entire college career relied on the completion of this paper.  A research paper too – I couldn’t simply spout out what I felt was right (anyone writing a blog lately?) – I had to have facts to back up my opinions.  Heck, I had to have a thesis statement with which I was to convince someone else that my gathering of facts and opinions was the correct way of thinking!  Suffice to say, in May of my senior year, with two weeks to graduation, I had completed almost nothing – my bon-bon stomach was fat with guilty pleasures, but my diploma was looking farther and farther away.

However, this is not a story about how I walked in May but received an empty diploma holder (I did) – nor is it a story about how I was given an extension until the Memorial Day holiday weekend to complete my paper (I was) – nor is it a story about how I eventually found inspiration from an online friend who helped me to overcome my depression and complete the seemingly insurmountable task of writing my thesis statement (I did) and completing my research paper (finally) and receiving that so-important piece of paper to fill the empty diploma holder (and it looked great).

I crumbled. I got selfish. I let my own personal lack of confidence stand between me and success.  However, more importantly, I let my poor motivation silence the voice of the subject I was writing about – electronic voting machines, specifically how we needed better auditing, thank you for asking; a very hot topic in the early 2000’s.

The reason why, nearly a decade after the fact, I am telling you this story is because I was recently introduced to the following TED video with Madeleine Albright titled “On being a woman and a diplomat”.

This really is a fantastic speech and while she is talking about being a woman something she said about the 4 minute mark really hit home.  She was discussing her first day on the UN Security Council and how she wanted to sit back to get a lay of the room, to observe and learn about the other 14 people in the room – she was letting her self-consciousness determine when she would and would not speak.  Then she had the realization that guided her through that day

“I am sitting behind a sign that says The United States and if I don’t speak today then the voice of The United States won’t be heard.”

Wow.  Think about that. No, stop! Don’t think about the awesome amount of responsibility on her shoulders – think about the awesome amount of responsibility on YOUR shoulders.  When you choose not to speak or act you not only silence yourself but you silence the voice of anyone in your situation, of anyone you may directly or indirectly represent.  When you choose to bon-bon the pressure away you may only be letting yourself down – however, think about the others who might learn or benefit from you speaking, or writing, or doing.

After nearly two months of not posting, I thought this was an appropriate way to come back to the blog.  Maybe you’re reading this and thinking “wow, this is utter bullshit” or “hey, this is me!” Honestly, I wrote this because Madeleine’s comment makes me realize how much more focused I need to be at work – how I need to speak out more (yes, more!), and more importantly how every time I let a deadline slip or push off something of “less importance” I am actually silencing the voice of someone else – not just myself.