Finding My Voice

 

I speak my mind. A lot. People tell me they admire me for being a straight-shooter, or standing up for things and people. What most of them don’t realize is that it took me literally decades to get to the point where I could speak up for myself, let alone others. When my good friend, Tigris, asked me to be part of her Friday’s Fearless Female, I knew I had to share this little bit about me.

I “knew” lots of people in high school, but I never belonged. My parents were older, and had long since retired, before I entered high school, and simply put, I was awkward. We didn’t acknowledge social awkwardness back in the 1980s, I just wasn’t “cool.” That’s not to say I’m cool now, but I am at least unafraid to be myself.

It was only a handful of years ago that I stopped worrying so much about pleasing everyone, and realized I needed to just be true to myself. I had always been socially aware, and had raised my daughters to look at the world around them, and show compassion, but I never wanted to offend anyone. I don’t really want to offend anyone now, but I find it hard to stay quiet, when I know I have the power to speak out.

That doesn’t mean I’ve changed who I am, just that I’ve evolved in some ways. I’m still the girl who would rather be home reading, but I’m also the person who can speak in front of hundreds of people without freaking out. I can talk to almost anyone, but if it’s not for work, I have to force myself out of the house. I’m not afraid, or uncomfortable since I’ve accepted myself, flaws and all, but I would still rather be with a book than out with a crowd.

Being fearless for me has meant accepting who I am, both inside and out. I’m not the rail thin girl I was a couple of decades ago, and I’m also not the one who was scared to walk up to an actor at Old Tucson 30 years ago. It means I’ll defend my friends to the end of the world, and I’ll speak up about what I believe in. Sometimes that on social media, but it’s also in the books I write. Every one of my books has a strong female main character—most of them are much stronger than I’ll ever be—and themes of loyalty, and social justice. I couldn’t write them any other way.

I found my voice around the time I turned 40, and yes, sometimes I wish I’d been able to do it earlier in my life. Then again, I probably wasn’t ready to be this fearless when I was younger. My time is now, and my voice is only getting stronger.

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