One of my blog posts from earlier this week has received over 200 views. Not so impressive in the grand scheme of the Internet, but still, more than I would have expected.
People I don’t know have read it.
Earlier this week I happened to speak with a young woman in a meeting. “I feel like I’m in a room with the most successful people ever,” she told me. “I don’t know if I should speak up – what could they learn from me?”
To me, it was obvious that she should speak up. It was obvious that her voice was valued. It was obvious that her voice should be valued.
I told her that. I’m not sure she believed me.
But she spoke up anyway.
Similarly, I find it impossible to imagine that 200 people could possibly care what I have to say. Even if they clicked on the link and decided it was terrible – for at least a moment they saw something of value.
I say this not as a cry for help or to fish for praise, but too give voice to something everyone experiences.
We’re all the awkward kid in the cafeteria, desperately hoping the cool kids will allow us to sit with them. Whether the cool kids are jocks, cheerleaders, band geeks, science nerds, theater kids, or outright outcasts, we’re all hoping one of them will let us in.
We’re all hoping to belong.
And we all do belong. Not just in one clique but all of them. We all have something have something to offer. We all bring value.
But here’s the thing: it’s those situations in which we feel most uncomfortable, in which we feel most like nobody – it’s those situations in which we most need to speak up.
If you believe that diverse voices bring value, then you must believe that your diverse voice brings value, too.
Sometimes I joke that, just like Odysseus, I am Nobody. The joke, of course, being that Odysseus wasn’t nobody. And he was pretty arrogant.
But, it’s a helpful reminder to me.
It doesn’t matter whether I think I’m nobody. It doesn’t matter whether I feel awkward or like I don’t belong. It’s my responsibility to speak up. It’s my responsibility share my perspective.
And it’s your responsibility too.
If you’re sitting in the back of the class, feeling hesitant about getting involved, worried what others might think, just remember: they need you. They need your ideas, opinions and insights. They need your voice.
Whether you believe it or not, it’s true. They need you.
So speak up, Nobody, I want to hear from you. I need to hear from you.
(No cyclopes were harmed in the writing of this post. Well, maybe one.)