Four Steps to Start Speaking Up
My biggest problem growing up was finding my voice. I was so afraid to speak up for many reasons. I remember my entire childhood being a mental and emotional battle between fear and adapting to a world different from home. You see, I’m first-generation American with both parents from Mexico. My dad firmly believed that preserving their culture, language, values, principles, and teachings was crucial for my sisters and me not to forget how much our parents sacrificed for our future.
We were different from other families in the neighborhood, and I saw that every day at school. My childhood wasn’t the same as the average American child. My first language was Spanish, and I looked indigenous — not Black, Puerto Rican, nor Dominican, which was the majority in my elementary school. My clothes were custom made by my mom, second-handed, or cheap clothes from a local shop, never name brand. Those who grew up in NYC in the 80’s know that fashion was everything — reflecting the hip hop culture. Our worth was measured on what we wore. Kids made sure that I remembered that my family and I weren’t like them, making fun of my clothes and the fact that I had to translate for my mom all the time.
When teachers chose me to read, I would instantly feel hot, sweaty, nervous, and emotional because I knew that I didn’t speak English. One time in third grade, I felt confident and voluntarily stood up to read aloud, knowing that I would kick-ass because I felt great that day. Guess what? It was a TOTAL MESS, and yes, it was ugly. I even heard a girl from the class say, “why does she always sound like a robot!” Little did she know that I had to process every word in my mind first to understand its meaning and then translate it into the English language. I clearly remember how my heart dropped when she commented and instantly lost the ounce of courage that I had.
That moment became a pivotal moment in my life. I was only eight years old, and I understood that something had to change. I was furious that I still couldn’t speak English fluently but determined to learn as much as possible. From that point forward, I made a personal decision to change my narrative, instead of becoming more of what the kids defined me as.
Here are four essential steps to get you started on finding your voice!
Strategy Plan to Start Speaking Up
Step 1: Write one thing that you want to change regarding speaking up. It could be verbally standing up for your personal beliefs, learning how to say no to others, or public speaking in class settings.
Dig deep and genuinely reflect on this first step. Pick something that you’ve always wanted to conquer.
Step 2: Sit down quietly, close your eyes, breathe, and make the personal decision wholeheartedly to put in the work to change that one thing about you. It’s not enough to say, “I want to change,” you need to be hungry for it and truly want to free your voice.
Step 3: On that same piece of paper, write down three actions that you have to do to get you a step closer to that change.
Step 4: Commit to applying those activities every single day. Dedicate about 30 minutes daily for at least 21 days.
The break down:
In the first week, focus on doing the first activity from step number three. In the second week, start applying the following action with the first activity daily. And in the third week, add the third action. Eventually, you’ll create a daily practice of doing all three and feeling more confident about freeing your voice to speak up.
It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Stick to the plan, and you’ll experience amazing results. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Therefore, be patient, take your time, and show yourself the love you would give a friend.
Let me know how it goes, and if you need guidance along the way, don’t hesitate to contact me at info@michelleEnriquez.com or send me a direct message on Social Media.