My husband likes to joke and call me the forever student.
Someone who enjoys anything involving the ingestion and spitting out of “text.” I guess he’s more of the creative, songwriter type, where his words dance on paper, whereas I enjoy communicating ideas that convey a product, service, or message.
Some could even say my writing style is a bit straightforward and dry, and that probably rings true. But if I see a venture that could benefit humanity or serve the greater good, my brain will automatically shift into overdrive and think of ways to market and spread that message. I’ve done this so many times in my life, where now, if this happens, I just go with it.
In my previous role as cyber school counselor, I would jump at the chance to highlight the strengths of our school, the students, or our school counseling program. Back in 2015, I was so convinced that our school counseling program was one of the best in the country, and on a whim, I submitted a proposal to the American School Counseling Association asking to be a part of their annual school counselor conference.
At that time, not many people heard of cyber school counseling, let alone could understand how we could serve students in an online setting. Even at social functions when asked what I did for a living, I would usually get a weird, perplexed look in return. No one really understood how it all worked and understandably so.
Having the opportunity to share the culmination of what our school counseling department built from ground up would be a dream come true. With years of trial and error, consistent feedback, and dedication and passion, we believed in our team and how we served students. It was the perfect time to share insight in how we supported learners from all different backgrounds and circumstances.
But the very thought of presenting in front of a roomful of curious educators scared the living daylights out of me. Unless I’m dancing to 80s jams or goofing off with friends and family, my introverted nature is quite content observing on the sidelines.
What if we received negative feedback? What if they hated our ideas? What if my anxiety got the best of me and I stumbled all over my words, or I passed out?
As hard as the negative mind chatter was to deal with, I was open to the challenge. It didn’t matter to me how incredibly fearful I was; I knew that I would never have this opportunity again.
Surprisingly, that year, our proposal was accepted and along with two other counselors, we presented at the annual conference in Arizona. We were one of the first online cyber schools in the country to share our practices. Our presentation was titled, “School Counseling in the Cyber World.” And, even though my voice shook, and my hands trembled as I held the podium for dear life, I kept going. I communicated our message. I used my voice.
That year, we generated much interest and intrigue from many school counselors. The feedback was mixed but mostly positive. Some people commented how unique and groundbreaking we were. Others wanted to collaborate with us.
We submitted proposals for future conferences, and in the March of 2020 when COVID-19 hit, a team of us assisted school counselors in the transition from the brick and mortar to the home, online setting. With the world turned upside down, our team was perfectly positioned to share what had worked for us for so many years. Supporting school counselors near and far was an opportunity of a lifetime that I’ll never forget.
Looking back now, I never knew that writing that proposal years ago would provide so many amazing avenues to support others.
When I joined Elephant Academy’s “Find Your Voice” course, I also never imagined that it would remind me what I had clearly forgotten.
It reminded me how much the world needs to hear different voices and perspectives.
It reminded me that if we know our why and stay connected to our passions that we can accomplish anything.
It reminded me that being afraid and walking the unbeaten path is okay, that not everyone may understand, agree, or appreciate the message, but someday, someone may find it useful.
It reminded me how cathartic writing can be, that it can reconnect us back to our purpose and motivate us in the most authentic way.
Writing is a natural, creative form of expression that lies within each and every one of us. It can also aid in our healing and helps us to find our courage.
Writing gently puts us back in the driver’s seat, reminding us that sharing our voice is essential, needed, and necessary for positive change.