What Do You #ChooseToChallenge?

Yesterday I listened to a podcast where Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen were sharing the stories behind their chosen careers. While their upbringings were markedly different, each considered themselves an outsider who had a valuable message to share – but lacked a voice. Politics and music {respectively} gave them a platform for self-expression. Springsteen recalled, “I needed to find a way to speak, and to be heard.”

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge,” and I choose to challenge a woman’s right to give voice.

 The freedom to speak her truth and be heard. To express her ideas, insights and desires without hesitation. Without worry. And without fear.

The struggle women have to communicate their true thoughts and feelings is what drove me to launch Open Heart Creative. I grew up in a house where we weren’t allowed to speak at the dinner table unless we were spoken to. And while I carved out a successful career in communications, my “female” voice was disrespected too many times to count.

I know the struggle is real.

When I tell women I’m a brand storyteller, many of them say, “There’s so much I want to say, but I have such a hard time writing about myself and my business.” I believe this is less about skill and more about the fear of giving voice to what it is they want to say. As women, we also tend to downplay the value of expressing what we do, why we do it and what’s in our hearts.

As a writer, I help women business owners find the words to connect with their tribes, in their own voices, with honesty and integrity. When they say, “I can’t say that, can I?” – well, it’s my job to tell them they sure as hell can.

I support every woman who has the courage to use her voice, even when it’s risky.

On a day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world, it gives me hope to live in a country that elected a woman vice president who has strong opinions she is not afraid to express. And in a time when little girls and young women are encouraged to speak their minds.

Author Neil Gaiman says, “Most of us find our own voices only after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.” I believe each of us has always known the sound of our own voice. We hear it when we believe in ourselves. When we’re comfortable with our ideas and opinions. And each time we give voice to our stories, and share from our hearts, we lift up others – and inspire them to do the same.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash