Have you ever experienced the sensation of your stomach knotting up a bit because there’s a conversation happening and something someone says sparks something in you and in an instant, you realize that you have something to contribute, something to say, but you’re nervous because you’re not sure that it’s any good? Have you ever felt that? Maybe it was during a lecture in undergrad or a group discussion in grad school? Or maybe it was a conversation amongst friends that had some weight to it, with some depth and texture? Maybe it was in a church setting, in a small group or a Bible study?
I’ve experienced this countless times. I still do. I thought it’d get easier. When I was a freshman in college, it was understandable that I’d be nervous about saying anything in class. I was 18 and dumb. I didn’t know anything and I knew it. But I thought that with age would come confidence. While this is true to a certain extent, I’m still apprehensive about speaking up sometimes. What if what I have to say is wrong? What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot? What if I have no clue what I’m talking about? But I know something now that I didn’t know when I was 18. What I have to contribute to the conversation, whatever the conversation may be, has less to do with what I say and more to do with the fact that I say something at all.
Any vibrant and worthwhile conversation is one that is ongoing. And as such, the goal for those involved in such conversations should not be to give the perfect, end-all answer that emphatically marks the period at the end of the sentence… Rather, the goal should be to point the conversation forward, asking questions, presenting angles and perspectives and paradigms others would not have thought of because we are all different, results of unique stories, carrying distinct perspectives necessary for coloring our conversations so that they do not grow old, stale, and gray.
So remember that you have a voice. And your voice matters. You’ve got something to say to this world. So please, just say it. We all need to hear it. We very well may need to hear it right now. And it may be your hesitation that allows the moment to pass, untouched, full of potential for change, but gone like yesterday. It’s not about right or wrong, deep or shallow, serious or playful. It’s about your unique voice, carrying the strength of your particular story, adding its own one-of-a-kind color to the mosaic of a larger conversation, moving all of us forward. So just say it. We’re listening.