Back in November I published a very short article on my personal blog where I spoke about my fears of reading aloud in front of my peers.
Despite working as a teacher of Secondary English before my children were born, I have developed rather crippling social anxiety, and a large part of that was due to being differently abled.
“My hearing disability means I have quite a loud, clear voice … as I have grown older and the direction of my life has changed, my deafness is also the very thing that gives me the most anxiety, on top of my usual anxiety!”
I knew I needed to work on getting over that, as I felt like it was holding me back from doing things I really wanted to participate in. I was already aware that I was declining invitations to social situations as I was finding the cognitive load of trying to hear through background noise too much. I was concerned that my hearing loss was starting to isolate me, and I wasn’t prepared to accept that.
A member of my close family, who also wears hearing aids, used to regularly met a group of friends at the pub. As he grew older and his hearing grew worse, and he found it harder and harder to interact in noisy places, he stopped going. I have seen how that affected him emotionally and I knew the only way I could beat it was to find new ways of approaching the problem.
In February, after reading Judy Reeves’ book, “Wild Women, Wild Voices,” I made a decision.
“I am going to be doing something very new this year which challenges me and frightens me, but also invigorates me and excites me. I will be offering workshops for women to help them find their Wild Voice.”
With a friend of mine, the lovely Stella at Geographic Hearts , I decided to offer free writing workshops to the women of Wellington who wanted to find their wild and authentic voice. I was able to base the class content on parts of Judy’s book, but I would still need to make lesson plans and facilitate the workshop. I would need to be able to stand up in front of my peers and not only read aloud, but lead a class of women who were looking to me to inspire them.
Honestly, I don’t know what on earth possessed me. I’ve always had a “go big, or go home” attitude, though. The first time I got on an aeroplane it was to fly 12,000 miles around the world to New Zealand.
“What if you hate flying?!” people asked me.
“I guess I’ll have thirty-eight long hours of anxiety, and then I’ll get off in an exciting new country,” was my reply.
On Saturday 11th May 2019 I led my first “Wild Women, Wild Voices” workshop. Twenty women attended, with another five apologising for being unable to make the session. I read a poem aloud, I co-led the class, I answered questions and gave feedback to those who also shared their work. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed it, but to be honest, I was absolutely terrified the entire time. Yet at the end, afterwards, I was so exhilarated. I was so proud! I captured the strength I needed to become a Wild Woman and I let loose my Wild Voice to conquer one of my most debilitating fears.
Now I only have to do it seven more times this year! 😉
Well-Written NZ & “Wild Women, Wild Voices” workshop facilitator (Wellington)
header image – Nadi Whatisdelirium @whatisdelirium from Unsplash
workshop image – Tabatha Wood