Being heard

I had a weird dream last night. Depending on what I had for dinner or for a late night snack, my dreams can be really strange.

Last night may have been a combination of both. I was in a some type of talent show or weird convention. Each contestant/speaker was going to talk to a huge audience and then do some type of talent? I knew I was going supposed to sing a song but I wasn’t sure about what else I was doing.

This dream was actually on the verge of a nightmare. The event was totally disorganized. There was no one in charge, no one showing people where to wait, when to go on, or what they were supposed to be doing. It was complete chaos and if you know me, I don’t do chaotic events very well.

In the midst of all the confusion, some speakers were going on stage for their first “act” and doing all sorts of random things. In my mind, the first act should be your introduction, your get to know me speech. But I wasn’t in charge of this event, which played on my anxiety levels.

As people haphazardly went out to the crowd (some not even on stage) and did their thing, I was getting more and more nervous, aggravated, and distraught because I didn’t know what was happening or what was expected of me. It wasn’t stage fright. I speak to people all the time. I teach in front of groups of people. I speak up in a crowds of people. I have performed on small and large stages in front of a handful of people and hundreds of people.

It wasn’t stage fright. It was expectations fright.

If I don’t know what is expected of me, I get nervous. I hesitate or find excuses as to why I can’t do it. I look for an escape path and want to avoid everything and everyone. If someone says, “Just do your thing” I hesitate and stumble. I need to know the expectations.

In my dream I was pacing, trying on a million different outfits, fiddling with my hair and makeup, and I began to fall into the bottom of my strengths. I began to focus on this event being a competition, a comparison of who would get the most people to listen, applaud, and cheer. I had lost so much focus that I didn’t even know what I was going to do when I got behind that microphone.

I bumbled my way onto the stage. As I was standing there with no introduction, not even an announcement of the next speaker is…I froze. I looked around at all the people. They were visiting, standing around, and not paying any attention to me whatsoever. I tried to get their attention. I started doing all sorts of ridiculous things like juggling, baking something, and telling jokes. Nothing would get this audience to turn around and pay attention. The judges looked like they were on a commercial break. I gave up.

I started to leave the stage when something began pulling at me. It was a speech. No, it wasn’t a speech, it was a proclamation. It was something that I have been saying every day for the past few months. When I started hearing that in my head, I stopped walking off the stage. I turned around and grabbed the microphone. I got in my superman pose, stood tall, and I said, “I’m gonna get really honest with you right now. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing up here.”

The room was still a bit chaotic. Some people turned to look at me. Others were still oblivious to my existence. But there was one woman in the audience, a very powerful and influential woman. I recognized her immediately and was a bit star struck. I don’t know if she was a judge or just an audience member but she looked me straight in the eyes. I had her attention. If I had her attention, I could get more people’s attention.

“My name is Valerie Finlay and I am a the owner of So Natural Val, a women’s wellness company where I provide the tools that women need to live intentionally from their hearts. I get to do this ‘J.O.B.’ every day in a way that honors my desire to think, create, and learn with other women…”

I had the attention of about half the room at this point. So I just kept on talking and not worrying about a memorized speech or if someone was listening or scrolling on their phone. I knew that I was being heard, even if no one was watching. I knew that my words would grab the attention of someone who needed to hear them. I just took over. Eventually I had the attention of the entire room and got a big applause at the end of my speech.

This morning, as I thought about this weird dream, I realized that I am speaking all the time. I am talking to whoever wants to hear me or whoever needs to hear me. I might have a hundred people read to the end of this blog or just one. Some people won’t listen at all and that’s ok.

I show up, I do my thing, and I serve whoever needs me. It doesn’t matter if no one is looking at me, I’m still being heard.

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