A naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something.
The word naysayer seems outdated, a grandmotherly expression. I rarely hear it, yet it is the perfect word to describe why some live their lives dispiritedly.
The time has come for me to call out the naysaying—within me, there is a naysayer. It finds my ear, affects my thoughts, and influences my choices. It is the voice that has me hide raw, unfiltered emotions. It tells me to be careful not to offend, and stuff the truth away.
And in this moment, as I write, it says, “Stop, no one will ever want to read your sh*t.”
Sometimes, when it is late at night, it grabs me tight and twists me up. In the morning, I’ve become a version of who I ought to be and not the person I know as myself. For I am the one who cries no matter where I am or who is with me.
I am the woman who cackles to tears in a room alone by herself and the girl who dances in the dark to her own song.
I’ve become intimate now with other people’s naysayers. A close friend, an accomplished teacher, insists she’s a fraud before she teaches. I urge her naysayer kindly, “Stop and please shut up.” This tends to work, but only temporarily.
A childhood friend writes articles about her life, anonymously. She wouldn’t dare put her name on her pieces. Her naysayer has an army of coconspirators, and they wouldn’t like this look on her. I know all those naysayers, too. They live in the minds of the collective and have taken the “free” from our whimsical spirits. This is the chatter behind our backs that we can feel from miles away. It is the glares from family members and friends that build like steam bursting inside a kettle.
These naysayers despise the reminder of humanness and demand it shutter itself back into the box from which it came. I guess they see weakness where I see strength. And, while I want my friend to be proud and garner the warmth she needs and deserves—I also know what she is up against.
The naysayers are a combination of all of our fears. They tell us to take cover behind walls of solid steel and place our naked feelings within them. They are the clamor of voices who were recognizable once. But, now they sound more like our own, and we’ve become the naysayers, too.
“The naysayer is the disguises we wear,
a rational costume for an irrational way of living—
void of passion and beauty.
It is the crackling of eggshells we walk upon,
and it is the smoke we see and sense, but can’t smell.
It is the worry of becoming ridiculed and alienated—
of losing everyone and everything all at once.
It is being terrified to make a mistake;
of being too loud, too much, or not enough.
And the dreaded fear of fear that turned on itself.”
Still, hidden beneath the layers of unease and broken-down skin, there is a resilient, beating heart. It is the music that reminds us of its joyful presence: the book we savored, the poem we felt, and the old photograph that brought us to our knees.
Each unleashed, if only briefly, our gypsy souls and our wandering spirits.
And those tears we shed when the music ended, the novel was finished, and the curtain came down, they told us of our barest nature—more than all the years we’ve lived thus far. In those tender moments—sans the naysayers—I thank them all for revealing who I am not and who I never intended to be.
And, when the naysayers return as they always do, I will remember the blissful heart that lived in its entirety and let that love rule my world.