I sit down at a table with someone who is extremely dear to me; he listens to me ramble on about god knows what. Subtly I notice he is smiling, but at what? I blush and look down and apologize. ” I’m sorry, I talk too much.”I’ve grown accustomed to saying this phrase at least one with every interaction, regardless if I’m close to them or meeting them for the first time.
Since I was young I’ve been called the oh so cliche, “Miss Chatty Cathy.” All my report cards from elementary school with graciously read “Jaymeann is a bright creative girl, but gets distracted rather easily and just loves to talk.” I would see these comments and walk away with a smirk, I wore my outgoing personality with absolute pride.
The confidence and ability to embrace the traits that made me myself, helped me as I continued to spend my free time as a performer and creating friendships I would hope last me for quite some time. I wish I had maintained that confidence as the years continued, but it was short-lived
At 12 -years – old, I was in my very first set of honors classes, I raised my hand to answer a question, my interpretation of the book we were reading, and there was an outburst of laughter. The way I had seen it was just far too optimistic, the book was too dark for me. I had never been so scared to volunteer in class before, but I spent most of my English class, my favorite subject, sitting in the corner hoping that no one would think I was stupid..History wasn’t any better, as my teacher felt the need to mimic the way that I spoke, using over-dramatic hand gestures and a high pitch voice. The students felt it was okay to join along.
I was Elle Woods for Halloween, and nobody even blinked. To them- it wasn’t even a costume, I was a dumb blond in disguise anyways. At the time, I never looked as Elle as the hero that I see and inspiration as I see her as now. The woman that stood up to every single stereotype and fought against misogyny, and treated everyone with kindness. I saw her the way I believed people saw me, shallow, stupid, and completely “not serious”
“We don’t want to work with you, we want smart people in this group”
“But I have a B in this class”
“I’m sorry, not good enough, besides, you’d probably just talk the whole time anyways”
Cruelty of middle schoolers has never been a surprise, but I never wanted to fight back with words. Instead I thought I’m just going to change every aspect about me.Slowly I began to second guess every decision I made. “Don’t speak”- I would tell myself that. All of sudden all those small little comments about how I was always happy, contributed to the fear of never being good enough, or stupid.
From 7th grade on, I remained not only extremely timid, but became apologetic of the traits that had made me the person I am. The whole “Don’t talk so much” solution never really never worked for me. How is it that the trait I once took so much happiness in being known for, humiliated me. I spent high school constantly worried about saying a word, though that never happened. Turning in essays with apology notes attached to it. I constantly had to remind those who mocked me that I wasn’t stupid. Anxiety grew, yet I tried my hardest to keep that smile that so many people said made me so approachable. A kindness that also played a part of people viewing me as vulnerable.
It was never about talking too much, because as much as I tried to cover it up, I wore my personality on my sleeve. It was the assumptions that came with it and the intense insecurities followed by crippling anxiety I developed over the years. Once I got to college I was so beyond overwhelmed to introduce myself to anyone out of the fear of that my new fellow classmates would find me unintelligent and unworthy of being in college at all. And some of them did; one person guessed that I must have been a cheerleader in high school because I was just so incredibly perky. Another told me that I’m probably never going to be able to lead people properly because men would never take a girl like me seriously.
Perhaps my biggest fear was not that people believed that I’m an airhead, but it’s that my voice, my worth is never going to be seen as more than a bubbly bimbo who wouldn’t ever make it far in life. It started to seem that no one ever willing to look past me. And that my kindness would forever be something people take advantage. I’m too happy, too outgoing, too stupid
Half my life I believed that perhaps I was incapable and helpless to do anything right, but there’s something about looking at the world with the sense of hope that has brought me this far. Perhaps there are worse things to be called in life, and now I see maybe I shouldn’t ever take offense to those remarks- because sometimes when people tell you you’re too much of something, that’s exactly what you’re suppose to give to the world. Those who choose not to hear the words behind my smile or see the dedication and fighting spirit behind my actions- then they simply do not deserve my voice altogether.
Though I’ve grown, and many hoped, myself including myself, that maybe I would be a bit quieter as I grew up. However it wasn’t the quantity of my speech, but the quality that changed. See if my words are filled with courage and kindness than what more can I change. I’m never going to be a Stanford Grad or pass the LSATs; some days I can’t even walk without falling or crashing into others. Little things get me excited, I’m loud, I’m easily startled and I’m often oblivious to things that are right in front of my face. If people want to see me as dumb, that’s on them, I know I’m not and that true stupidity lies in the inability to have compassion and an open mind. My heart is full of so much love to spread, and I will continue use my voice in a fight for equality and to speak for those who feel like they have none. And I want to remind them, their voice, is the most powerful weapon someone can hold. Call me that loud overly opinionated feminist, or even stupid. However kindness is a gift. For so many people have the ability to make a change in the world with their talents but just walk on by, the chance to show kindness is truly a gift given and a gift to be shared.
“Yeah she talks a lot” I still will turn my head and freeze whenever I heard that comment, but those who choose to listen will know the words I say come with a purpose. My voice is my power, my ability and my strength that people have tried to play as my weakness.
I identify with Elle now and see her as a role model and motivation as I continue to move forward with my career. My personality that caused so much anxiety, that people tried to turn into a negative ended up being the exact thing that landed me the job of my dreams at merely 20 years old. My new job with the Disneyland, though every role is a starring one, allows me to use my heart, and my voice, to create happiness. And though I still get fearful and doubtful every now and then of how people are going to see me, I know that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I’m surrounded by a job that uses my best abilities to their advantage, and people who finally see my message behind my smile. As I continue to move forward with this company, I do want to be a leader. But what good is that power if i don’t use it to make a positive and compassionate difference in my workplace, in my community, and to those in my life. I want my chance to make my difference as a leader and have my heart be my crowning glory.
“I’m sorry, I talk too much”
” No you don’t”
“You don’t have to sugarcoat it, I get excited easily- I know I always have a lot to say”
“I’m not sugarcoating anything; because you do talk a lot,
“But not too much, never too much”
It’s all so clear, I’m where I’m meant to be.