On Becoming Public
I applied to join the Voices of Our Future Group on PulseWire today. It seems like the perfect opportunity for me to find my voice and use it to make a difference in the world - except I have a fear of being public. The “here’s my bottom in a bikini and what I looked like with a spiral perm at high school in the eighties,” of social networking sites like Facebook; or “this is what I’m eating for dinner” moments of Twitter, turned out not to be for me. No thank you very much. I’m the sort of person who would much rather share a little of myself with you under the kindly flicker of candlelight, than through the exhibitionistic nature of most sites popping up all over the Internet. The only reason I’m here and writing this, is the little tiny voice inside me, hiding within its’ kernel of possibility, that prodded me to press Apply Now!
It hasn’t always been this way. In fact, during the tumultuous turbulence of my teenage years in England, I regularly paced the pavements - placard in hand – to publicly rage against this issue or the next. In case there was any doubt as to my anger at the world not being the way I wished it was, I also colored my hair bright red.
As the years rolled by and the henna grew out, the desire to change the world - and myself - never went away, but the fear of putting myself “out there” loomed large. I was brought up in a country where the Victorian principles of “Stiff Upper Lip”, “Mustn’t grumble,” and “Women, as well as Children, should be seen and not heard,” were regular adages underlining my every move. Any shining moments of brilliance that I may have uttered in school were quickly quashed by well meaning teachers who supposedly knew better. An inner desire to work towards global change for the betterment of all human society could not have been nurtured in any wee lassie from a small northern town, never mind me. That was a realm reserved for rock-stars like The Beatles or Bono from U2 - and anyway, I showed no musical talent at all. I was channeled instead into the womanly pursuits of marriage and child rearing and if I simply must have a career, then clerical secretarial or the local ball bearing factory was the way to go.
My mother had other ideas. A staunch anti-housewife feminist of the seventies, she sent me to a University heralded with the motto, “Do Different!” to make a better life for myself. I was the first woman in my family to go to University and the first person on my mum’s side to stay in school past the age of sixteen. I was terrified; but the redbrick idealism soon filled me with the notion that Yes! I was going to do different and Yes! I was going to change the world. Only I fell in love, got married, moved to America and had babies instead. “Oh! Bother!” my mother shouted across the Atlantic at me, littered with choice Lancastrian expletives… probably.
When I received the invitation to join the Voices of Our Future Group, I saw myself in a community of women, one voice of many, reaching out to each other to learn and grow and share our visions in a united celebration of the diverse ways we dream. Now, as I write, that tiny little voice that wanted to be used to change the world is starting to bubble up in my gut and form shape and color. I wonder what it has to say.