Sound it Out.


Confession: I have a hard time pronouncing words.

Hard words, long words, words I’m not familiar with.

I’ll tell you this. I graduated at the top my class. First, actually. I was always a good student, always getting A’s. And I’d never confessed my struggle with words until just recently, to my husband.

I’ll be reading something out loud to him and get to a word I don’t know and I’ll slow down. I'll stop reading. 

My eyes are tracing the letters wildly, back and forth, trying to form them into syllables and sounds, but they’re just getting scrambled in my head. 

And I’m transferred to my schoolroom days, when I’d be in the same situation, and I couldn’t make sense of the words staring back to me, the words that my classmates could roll off their tongues with no problem.

I never understood, because I get how language works. I understand the rules.

Chris has realized this about me. “Sound it out,” he’ll say as I sit, snagged on the pronunciation of word, unable to move forward. “Sound it out.”

I feel like a child. Those are the things I used to say to my sister when she had the same problems.

I clam up. I show it to him. He tells me the word. 

He doesn’t understand why it bothers me. I’m ashamed. I should understand. I should know. Or I should at least be able to figure it out. I’m 28. I was a valedictorian and an English major. This shouldn’t be hard.

The other day we were sitting on the couch and, after one of our “Sound it out” moments, we began to talk about life and dreams, this year and the sadness I can’t seem to shake.

“What’s your dream?” he asked.

I shrugged, avoiding his eyes.

Moments passed. “What do you want to do? What would you do if you could do anything?”

That’s where things get sticky. I have no idea.

I could barely speak, the tears threatening to take over the minute I opened my mouth. “I don’t know,” I whispered.

That’s the thing. I’ve been in this dark winter of the soul. Things begin to feel better until suddenly they're not, and it's an endless cycle.

I’ve been searching so badly for purpose. 

I’m not one of those people who turned 8 years old and knew exactly what she was supposed to do with her life. It didn’t come when I entered high school, when I turned 18, when I started college, when I declared my major, when I walked across a stage and grabbed the piece of paper that basically stated I should know, I should have a plan.

I don’t have that little voice whispering to me, “You’re a painter, you’re an engineer, you’re a baker.” I’ve never had it. I’ve begged for it. I’ve wished and hoped someday it would come to me and the clouds would part and the world would become so clear.

So when he asked, “What’s your dream?” his question just echoed around my heart, bouncing around in the emptiness, with no voices to respond.

I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know what I want to do.

But I know how I want to feel.

Whole. Full. Boundless. Free. Alive.

I’ve felt that way in the past. 

I was sitting on a shuttle bus, heading back to the airport after my first Yellow Conference, and I felt it, that energy in my bones, the kind that makes me feel like I can do anything.

Several years ago, I was shooting a lot, putting together shoots just for kicks, gathering people to do fun things, and I just felt full. 

I declared 2015 my year of yes. I took 11 trips in 12 months and I felt unstoppable in my pursuit of exploration. 

I felt so alive in those times. Like there was a song playing in the depths of my heart and I was finally moving in rhythm to it.

But on the couch, I told him I didn't know. Because it's not something that's easily put into words.

“Yes, you do,” he said so confidently. Yes, you do.

"Sound it out. Sound out the dreams inside of you. Stop holding them back because you’re too ashamed of how they might sound. Sound it out."

I think maybe sometimes, we just have to learn a new language. Our heads can’t make sense of our hearts because we’ve been trained to believe certain things. We’ve been taught the language of fear. We’ve been told we need to settle down and be realistic. We’ve been taught to doubt, to see the limits instead of the possibilities. We’ve been taught that we’ll miss out on the good thing if we follow the thing that actually wakes us up inside.

And it chokes out our voice, our ability to bravely speak the sounds that echo inside of us.

But you and I, we know how to take it beat by beat, moment by moment.

Here’s to creating syllables and sounds out of things that don’t make sense. Here’s to somehow giving voice to dreams our heads didn’t know existed, that our minds don’t quite understand.

Here’s to taking it step by step. To giving ourselves permission to say it out loud, to maybe getting it wrong, believing we'll get it right. To wrapping our hearts around the possibilities. To listening for that song inside of us and learning the rhythm we were meant to dance.

Find your rhythm, baby. Sound it out.


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