A Letter to a Relative, from Rona Steinberg
Editor’s Note: Seeking always to provide insightful and engaging content to help outsiders turn our differences into creative fuel, I couldn’t help but think of Rona Steinberg, gatherer of a tribe of ‘OUT LOUDERS’ and sharer of wit and wisdom. It seems I was right: Rona really gets what it is to experience the world in a different and sometimes challenging way. Yet instead of shrinking, she celebrates authentic self-expression and a healthy dose of self acceptance. Let’s hear it in her own words…
We were all so excited to hear from you at OUT LOUD headquarters.
For some time we’ve heard rumours of an offshoot of the family to whom we’re closely related and it’s warmed our hearts to know that you are proudly thriving and growing your tribe. Especially that you’ve felt able finally to come out from the shadows and declare your OUTSIDERNESS in all its glories.
How glad we are to have that in common – as you may have heard, OUT LOUDERS have been shouting out all over the place and the acceptance and love that we are beginning to feel is truly inspiring and encouraging many other OUT LOUDERS who’ve felt ostracised and marginalised to feel confident to declare themselves.
Like you, our OUT LOUD brethren have also often experienced the sadness and pain of feeling different and out of place. Only the other evening, I found myself having a typical OUT LOUD moment to which I’m sure you’ll relate.
I’m with a couple of folks and what they’re saying just seems wrong to me. I blurt out a forceful difference of opinion and although I notice they seem unfazed, I experience that old, familiar feeling of having said the wrong thing and being out of kilter with my companions.
I sure beat myself up asking myself all sorts of questions like,
‘Why can’t you be more like everyone else?’
‘Why d’you always have to go round saying what’s on your mind and upsetting everybody?’
‘Why can’t you keep that big, fat mouth of yours shut?’
Well, on my way home, I have a word with myself. I go through my three step process; if this situation sounds familiar to you OUTSIDERS, you could follow these steps too.
- Ask yourself if it’s really true that other people are as upset as you think. Maybe you’re making an assumption and that assumption’s more to do with you than them. Maybe it’s you that’s upset for feeling different and not being able to trust your own unique wisdom.
- Think about what you said and why. It’s likely there was truth there even if you did speak abruptly and not as sensitively as you could. Perhaps you can forgive yourself for speaking plainly if the message was important; if the subsequent discussion carried some traction and shifted the general mind set. Probably there were others thinking what you were thinking but didn’t have the courage to say so. Feel proud that you give permission to others to speak their truth even when it feels uncomfortable or frightening.
- And, as I often do on these occasions, remember what our great, great, great grandmummy three times removed (I believe she was our common ancestor but I can’t be sure) said all those generations ago around the old homestead fire. She pronounced this fine piece of wisdom which we still carry in our hearts today,
‘Out Loudsiders,’ she quavered to the assembled clan (in those days we were one big family all living under one roof – outside (LOL) the main village obviously), ‘Out Loudsiders, in your life you might cause waves, ructions and all other kinds of ripples that other folk who fit in more easily are going to find unusual or disturbing or just plain unacceptable.
‘Sometimes you’ll feel like you wished you stayed home or decided not to wear that particular outfit or kept your opinions to yourself. The strange looks and uneasy silences that may signal an Outloudsider moment will bring about in you an uncomfortable yearning for an easier, more peaceful, less controversial way of life.
‘It’s not going to be easy to feel like you’re going against the tide of opinion or commonly held beliefs – you may think that no one wants to hear or see that the ideas or so-called wisdom that everyone else seems to feel are true or crucial to making this great world of ours spin on its axis, make no sense to you or are closely aligned to one of our favourite legends, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ (FYI, it is said that the hero, a young child, was an early OUTLOUDSIDER). But this is our burden and our privilege.’
She continued, ‘We have a special role to play in the world. Yes, not for us the easy, the comfy, the straightforward life. We will often take the less trodden path to our destination and we will find something new there to inspire the world. We will often say the unsayable and we will turn opinions around to confront intolerance and bigotry and just accepting what is because somebody with an overbearing manner says so (one of your greatest qualities by the way is courage).
‘We may look different and our crafts and creations may not follow the accepted norms but we have the capacity to create new sensibilities and original notions of beauty, intelligence and success. We have the capacity to lead.
‘Don’t be deterred by or feel scared of feeling different. This is your gift and if I can offer you one piece of advice, it would be rather than try to melt in to the background and be like everyone else you should on the contrary, be proud to stand out from the crowd.
‘Be more different. More eccentric. More joyously OUT LOUDSIDED. Believe that this is what the world wants and needs from you. The feeling of not being accepted will only continue if you yourself do not accept who you are. When you feel good about your difference, others will follow. And if they don’t then at least accept them with an open heart because they cannot see the joy and inspiration of diversity and we must show them our compassion.’
Well that’s what she said my dear cousin and I believe those words to be as true today as they ever were. I hope you’ll find them helpful and if you don’t, then feel free to say so. That old lady didn’t know everything and she was always happy to admit it (well not happy exactly but she’d come around in the end because she held honesty to be a core value of mine – I mean, hers).
I wish you good luck and good fortune in all your endeavours and please know that there’s always a good, accepting welcome for you over here in your home from home, OUT LOUD LAND.
With love and hugs from
Rona is the OUT LOUD coach dedicated to helping all those women who’ve been told to be quiet, nice, demure, discreet, good, self effacing, modest or mild and all those other women who don’t think they’re good enough or beautiful enough or thin enough or intelligent enough or young enough or old enough or sexy enough or any other enough, to step forth from the shadows, be powerful, true and joyful, find their voice, express themselves in whichever way is right for them and live the life they really want.
Rona has been a film and TV lawyer, writer, editor, stylist and full time mother. She now walks her talk, and is thoroughly OUT LOUD doing the work she loves – coaching her private clients to reach their full, shining potential and as a public speaking coach and trainer helping others to articulate their message through the power of the spoken word.