On every report card I’ve ever received from kindergarten through senior year of high school, the recurring note has been: ‘I wish she would share her voice more in class.” This comment bothered me every time I saw it, and every year I really made an effort to speak up more, but I still got those same remarks and they tormented me to no end. I am a naturally soft-spoken individual and I’ve always struggled with making myself heard. People sometimes have to lean into me when I talk and say ‘what?!’ (I’m sorry if I’ve ever put any of you in this situation; I am fully aware how annoying it is.) Before I arrived in August, I made a promise to myself that from now on I was going to be the outgoing, fearless participant my teachers always wanted. Despite my vows, since settling here at Kenyon it has become startlingly clear that I am still terribly uneasy in class discussions.
With my friends, I can babble like no one can hear me (it’s possible they can’t half the time.) Yet, put me in a circle of desks and I turn into a bobble-head doll: head nodding incessantly, eyes alight, but lips rarely opening except to agree, chuckle, or give a little ‘mhmm’ like I’m on the phone and trying to signal to the person on the other end that I’m still there. I am the poster child for active listening. Now, if only I could force myself more often into the action of speaking. Continue reading