As a kid, I knew this instinctively. Back then, though, I was a little more… liberal with the facts than I am now (read: compulsive embellisher).
For example, there was that time in third grade when my best friend (later my adoptive sister) Rebecca and I got fed up with the relentless teasing and taunting of our classmates and decided to take our revenge.
Well, decided is a bit strong. It all happened rather spontaneously.
You see, we were what you might call outcasts. Weirdos. Freaks. Geeks. The last ones picked for any sort of team.
Rebecca, a natural redhead, dressed like a character from Little House on the Prairie, and I regularly wore full-on costumes to school: Pippi Longstocking, Tinkerbell, beatnik in a beret. Whatever struck my fancy.
Given this overwhelming evidence, the other children had decided, as a group, that we were witches. And they reminded us of this at every available opportunity.
Rather than fight this designation, however, we found it amusing and chose to play into it. Back in that pre-Harry Potter era, witchcraft was very much open to interpretation, so it wasn’t very difficult to keep their tongues wagging.
We spent our recesses collecting mysterious objects–mushrooms, tree bark, a pinecone that sorta looked like a face–and whispering “spells” under our breath. And of course there was the time we decided to perform a public ritual to become blood sisters, slicing open our palms and clasping them together out on the edge of the playground for all to see.
Finally, one drizzly day, we were confronted by a group of angry villagers–sorry, I mean the “in-crowd”–who demanded to know the truth, once and for all. Were we witches?
I looked at Rebecca. She tossed her mane of coppery curls and shrugged, as if to say, they already know, so… whatever.
I turned to the crowd and sighed, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” They, of course, insisted that they would.
“Alright,” I caved, “But you can’t tell anyone else!” They, of course, insisted that they would not.
“The truth is… we are witches.”
There arose a great clamor of “I knew it!” and “I toldja so!”
“In fact…” I continued in a conspiratorial tone, but then stopped myself, as if rethinking my decision to share this top-secret information. “Nothing, never mind.”
After the requisite begging and cajoling, I reluctantly agreed to spill the proverbial beans to that rapt crowd of elementary school royalty like the burgeoning court jester I was.
“Well, in fact, we aren’t just witches. We’re from… another dimension!”
The gasp was audible.
“How did you get here?” asked the most popular girl in our grade, Jenny (I mean, of course her name was Jenny. This was the 80’s after all).
“Through the portal,” I answered simply.
Cue the chorus of voices begging to know how to find this magical portal to another dimension.
I pointed to a muddy old tractor tire, embedded in the ground near the swing set, ostensibly as play equipment. “It’s under there. But you have to dig a while to find it. I wouldn’t bother trying to…” but they were already on their way over to the tire, some grabbing sticks or rocks as makeshift shovels, but most just digging in with their bare hands.
For the remainder of recess, we gloried in the scene: the popular kids fighting for a chance to cake their school clothes in mud in a vain attempt to find a fake portal to a nonexistent dimension on our say-so alone. The trip to the principal’s office and subsequent detention were 100% worth it.
Truth is braver than fiction
Back then, I hadn’t yet realized that the truth is both stranger, and more powerful, than fiction. I didn’t know that, to find the right audience–the one that would feel an instant connection to me through my stories–I had to start speaking my truth, and loudly.
Happily, on the path to living out loud, I garnered some valuable real-world experience.
I traveled all over North America, Europe, and West Africa, learning, performing, and collecting stories of all kinds.
I got a PhD in Dramatic Art.
I helped two different startups get acquired in multi-billion dollar deals. I also gave voice to several beloved characters as a voice-over artist, and helped countless solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners hone their brand voice as a freelance writer and content creator.
But most importantly, I learned that the best way to bring value to the world was not to try and transform myself into whatever appeared to be most urgently needed, but to find those places where my unique gifts and talents would be most useful.
Once I gave myself permission to be unapologetically who I am, stories started pouring out of me faster than I could type them up. So I created this blog and filled it with my truth.
But still, something was missing.
It wasn’t until I was doing a branding exercise to create a logo that the answer came to me, loud and clear. I kept using voice imagery, as in, “I give voice to your brand,” and “I want to help you live out loud.” And suddenly it was painfully obvious what was missing from my writing. I wasn’t reading it out loud.
I mean, I was. Of course I was. I’m an actress and a voice-over artist, and I have a daughter who is obsessed with hearing stories of my past. But I wasn’t yet recording myself reading them out loud, despite having an in-home studio already set up. After releasing an epic “DUH,” I printed out one of my essays, turned on the mic, and started recording.
And the rest, as they say, is history.