After over thirty years of being told to be quiet and keep my thoughts to myself because I was female, I finally realized I didn't have to.
More importantly, I realized I shouldn't.
My mom didn't conform to that rule, particularly before my time. She'd tell me how she joined demonstrations and protests to fight for women's rights. She'd share with me stories of how she used to be feisty like me. It inspired me. But as the years went on, she 'mellowed' as she called it. What really happened was she was beaten down and gave in. More and more when I would state my opinion, she'd tell me to calm down and be quiet. That it wasn't worth upsetting anyone.
That it was easier to stay quiet.
Eventually, although it tore at me to not let my feisty nature out, staying quiet became second nature. I hated it. I hated myself. I hated being told to keep quiet. Even in my late twenties, I'd talk to her about things that upset me or that I disagreed with, mostly to just get it off my chest. And every time, she'd tell me to calm down. To stay silent and not talk to the person upsetting me. I can still hear her voice and the long, drawn out way she'd say my name: "Andi....Andi. Be nice. It's not worth it."
Then, when I was 32, something clicked inside me. I grew tired of the charade. I grew tired of not being me. I grew tired of being afraid of how others would judge me if I spoke my mind.
So, after much practice and a bundle of nerves, I let my feistiness out. I spoke my mind for the whole world to see. Some people liked it. Some people were indifferent. Some called me cra-cra. But I couldn't have been happier. I was finally me! I spoke about issues and concerns important to me. I stood up for myself and told people what I thought when they upset me. I didn't let people talk down to me, and didn't let people take advantage of me, particularly in my career as an author.
There are times when I still struggle with finding my voice. When the old ways ingrained in me shout from somewhere deep within that I should remain quiet. But I remind myself that it's okay to be me. It's beautiful. It's freeing.
So, I tell all of you now. Be you. Relish in all your little quirks and differences. Let your true self shine for the world to see. Be proud.
Embrace your crazy.