This blog was written by Katherine Longmuir, Elevate’s Spring 2020 Content Intern.
Words are one of my greatest passions. I often struggle with whether or not I use too many. I know what it is like to question your voice, not just as a writer, but as a person. I question myself frequently about whether or not I have something significant to say. As the only girl in my immediate family surrounded by three brothers, it was not a secret to me that I talked a lot. Thankfully, I grew up in a household that enjoyed hearing my dramatic stories complete with extremely demonstrative facial expressions!
So naturally, I landed a major in Professional Communication in college.
Can I be honest for a second? When I started at Kennesaw State University, I developed a million insecurities about my abilities and questioned my strengths more than any other time in my life. Maybe you can relate to this. Being surrounded by other competent adults made me invalidate my own strengths, capabilities, accomplishments, and even the validity of my voice. For a little while, I convinced myself that I had absolutely nothing significant to say, and that I was riddled with weaknesses. In hindsight, I can see those were my own insecurities screaming. Many of us have heard that comparison is a trap, and I wholeheartedly agree.
When I started my internship with Elevate, I knew that I would be challenged to use my voice again and not just because I was hired as a content intern who would be doing a lot of writing. This brings me to my first point:
1. You were hired for a reason.
You were chosen specifically for the special set of skills that you possess. You are a high caliber leader. Yes, you may be earning a degree that thousands of other people are also earning, but they are not you. No two people earn the exact same degree. Your life experiences and convictions alter the lens in which you learn. The information you have collected as a student has shaped the skills you have in order to succeed in the role you are now fulfilling, and the learning does not stop now. As you navigate your way through this internship, do not be afraid to share your expertise! The team that hired you chose you based on your abilities, and they want what you have been uniquely designed to contribute. You were not hired by mistake. We all have our own unique skills and contributions, and yours are valuable.
2. The way you speak to yourself matters.
Remember just a few paragraphs up when I talked about spiraling into thinking I had no strengths? Most of that was my inner voice talking to me. Nobody audibly told me that I was a failure. In fact, people all around me were reminding me of my strengths. I made the mistake of letting my inner critic speak louder than external sources of truth. We all have an inner dialogue we are consistently conversing with. Sometimes it is nice and kind, and sometimes it is a wildfire destroying our self esteem. As you are faced with challenges and obstacles to overcome during your internship, remind yourself of what is true. If that inner voice is telling you that you are not measuring up, then silence it. If it is telling you what you have to contribute is not valuable, then recognize that as a lie, and tell yourself the truth. We all have an inner voice, and your voice is powerful.
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” ― Vincent Van Gogh
3. Just say it.
I am not suggesting that you do not think before you speak. It is wise to consider what you say before you say it. However, if you are sitting in a meeting or conversation and debating on whether or not your idea is worth sharing, then share it. I cannot tell you how many times I had an idea that I almost didn’t share out of uncertainty, only to find that it was implemented and made a difference.
Also, you do not have to have your thoughts perfectly formulated before you speak. I certainly am not an eloquent speaker; I talk in circles until I feel like I have sufficiently gotten my point across. If you are about to keep your idea to yourself, throw it out there and allow others to help you evaluate. Besides, most great plans come from a collaboration of ideas. Have the courage to be imperfect! Don’t let the fear of criticism keep you from contributing. We are all full of beautiful ideas and perspectives, and yours are worthy of being shared.
To wrap up…
It has been a privilege to intern with Elevate. This internship has reminded me that my skills are unique. So are yours. My voice is valued. So is yours. My perspective is worthy of being shared. So is yours. Sure, many things have been thought of and said before, but they have not been said by you.
I figured you needed the reminder,
Content Intern, Spring 2020.