No, I Will Not Be Quiet
No, I Will Not Be Quiet
My whole life I’ve been subliminally told my opinion doesn’t matter. It’s never been outright, but it’s always been there. Maybe it’s because I’m female, maybe it’s because I’m young, or maybe it’s because people are afraid of hearing the voice and opinions of a small liberal youth. I’m not sure on the why, but I’m sure it’s affected me.
See, when people keep patronizing you to be quiet, it has an effect. For me, it’s been in the form of self doubt that manifest into anxiety issues and self-esteem drops all throughout my educational career. I’ve always been nervous to speak up in class or in my extracurricular activities because, for so long, people have been trying to get me to be quiet. Over the years I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and to hold in my “liberal hippie trash” opinions in conservative situations, like in my Church’s Youth Group Discussions every month or in History classes taught by conservative old white men.
Recently, I joined an after-school group called FLOW (Future Leaders of the World). I’ll admit, I have no interest in going into politics, I was just looking for a leadership activity for my college applications. But, on the orientation date, a classroom discussion started where we got to speak about the pro’s and con’s of protesting and civic disobedience. I was hooked. I had finally found a more supportive community that would help me be better at speaking out (and being liberal hippie trash).
My mentor in FLOW is Juan Goodwin, and he’s honestly helped me get over most of my speaking anxiety. What’s amazing about it is that all he’s done is support me through the process of writing and presenting my Soapbox Speech on the need for better LGBT+ representation in mainstream media. Through FLOW, Juan has made me present my speech five times in front of a large audiences, the head city planner, a representative for the House of Representatives, and a member of the city council. That’s not even counting the time I presented it at MYCOM Soapbox Speech Competition, where I won second place. Through FLOW, I have also gained enough knowledge of the presidential election and candidates that I went to support democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, at one of his rallies and was able to hold intellectual conversations with the people around me on current political issues.
Even though I don’t have as many opportunities to speak out on issues in front of largely supportive crowds, I plan to continue to speak my mind in situations where inequality is apparent. After I graduate, I plan to continue onto college where I plan to major in psychology while being on a pre-med track, so I can go on to be a psychiatrist for LGBT youth and adults in the future. While I am not sure where I want to go to school exactly, I am looking at schools like Pace University and Bryant University. I’m a junior as of now, so although I can’t apply to college quite yet, I am preparing myself for the application process. I go to college fairs whenever possible and am activity trying to improve both my ACT score and GPA to make myself stand out more to college admissions boards.
As stated before, I still have anxiety issues when it comes to speaking my mind in front of people. I still get patronized in an effort to get me stop “thinking so hard” about the glaringly obvious oppression and inequality issues in my life. I am still considered very liberal, but FLOW has helped me learn that people won’t always agree with what I’ve said, but what I say will still be important. I plan on taking this knowledge with me when I head off to college. I’ve also learned the importance of supporting others in their goals towards greatness and correcting them when I need to, like on the importance of using the proper names and pronouns with transgender youth. I’m current using my knowledge to pay it forward by writing short stories and plays that express my thoughts and sharing them with the world in the hopes they’ll see my courage and use it to build their own.