10th November 2017
As Neil Tyson astutely observed, we spend the first two years of a child's life teaching it how to walk and talk and the rest of its life telling it to shut up and sit down. That's the culture I grew up in, the one that most of us call home. We have come to think of the small inner voice of doubt we harbour as just something inherently human, and something we have to live with. Surveys have shown that most people think of public speaking as (literally) a fate worse than death. Because if you have been put in your place in the chair as a child, you're not going to be able to stand up and speak so easily. You're not going to be able to think of yourself as worthy of attention. Children, especially babies in our culture, are thought of as being in a constant grab for attention. Babies are left to cry because they are "just trying to get attention."
We may have published a book, we may have become the highest-grossing star in Hollywood, we may be president of a super power, and no matter how much hot air we blow out in the cause of our self-worth, we are still in our own mind's eye, bound up, tied to a chair. This is especially true of women. In the above picture, the castle that is rightfully ours lies off in the distance, blocked from our vision by a puny fence of our own making.
To escape, the first step is to acknowledge that the ties that bind us are not chains, but only ribbons, something we could actually wriggle free of. The fence we have constructed around ourselves, or has been constructed for us, is made up of our own courage turned in against itself. It's a barrier made up of swords barely planted in the ground. Like all fear, it exists in our own circle of solitude and won't withstand the action of simply standing up and walking away. So grab your sword, your own courage, and make a run for it!