When I was in the eighth grade, my favourite english teacher (Hey Ms. Infanti!! ) got us to read the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Here’s a clip from the 2004 film version of the book – just so you can see what it’s all about.
It was the perfect book to read before going to high school and I am grateful for having read it. Last week I decided to pick up a copy at Chapters to reread it. I think it resonated more with me now than it did when I was fourteen. I think that it affected me more than I ever cared to realize and on more than one level.
There are countless remarks said by Melinda’s art teacher, Mr.Freeman that may have even inspired me to keep writing.
- “This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Where you can touch that part of you that you’ve never dared to look at before,” – Mr.Freeman talking about Art class (Pg 10).
- “When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time,” – Mr.Freeman (Pg 122).
If you knew me when I was a kid, you’d know that I was very shy and immensely quiet and I am certain that if I hadn’t started to write I would have never found my voice. Dance, sculpting, painting, drawing, sports, music, baking, cooking, writing, are all extensions of YOU. They are all ways in which you can express yourself, ways you can discover who you are. Art and creation are that powerful. Speak proves that and I hope that my book does too.
I’m not going to sit here and say that I am 100% like Melinda’s character or that my high school experience can even parallel hers but I was definitely as quiet as her. I wonder if my parents thought I was weird. I wonder how much it hurt them that I couldn’t talk – not to them or to anyone. I wonder if they know that it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to talk to them, I was just afraid…
“Maybe I should start talking to Them, maybe a little bit. But what if I say the wrong thing?” – Melinda talking about her parents (Pg 127).
…afraid that I would say the wrong thing. I felt like if I kept my feelings inside, my sadness or insecurities, they would eventually disappear. With other people I was always afraid that my opinions were wrong or that I would upset someone by them. I was always afraid that I would get made fun of or that I would be challenged. I was made fun of a lot and was always afraid to stand up for myself and I didn’t want to tell my parents – I didn’t want to seem like a baby.
So, I kept it inside and started writing. That helped. Creation is a great outlet but it wasn’t until I got really bad anxiety and a migraine so severe that I threw up at school, that my parents told me I HAD to talk to them more. I had to let out my feelings and I did. I’m still shy and a bit passive sometimes, but I have a stronger and more powerful voice than I ever had before (that’s what over 10 years of writing and learning to talk to people will do to you).
Moral of the story: find your VOICE.
You have a voice and it has VALUE.
Let it be HEARD.