This I Believe

Rachel - Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Entered on November 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

*I believe in yelling. *

I believe in yelling. I grew up as a quiet child in a quiet neighborhood. My childhood was filled with questions of “What?” and “Could you say that again?” I was shy, and although self expression was thoroughly (and quietly) encouraged, I was self-contained and soft spoken. I had hamsters and rabbits, the quietest of pets.

But each of these reinforcements that quiet is good and loud is bad only made me want to scream. I longed to shout out my place in the world. I wanted to be the kind of person who could unabashedly declare their identity. And then it happened. Some 20 years down the road, I learned to yell.

I started going to poetry slams with a boy in Chicago. He became my friend, my editor, and my worst critic. He’d sit in the back of the room when I read and would heckle me, shouting, “That’s not loud enough!” after each line of my poetry. I would blush and try to push my trembling voice a little more. With each blush and deep breath, I became louder and louder. In that smoky bar filled with young, hopeful Bukowskis and a loud, lanky, blond boy in the back, my voice stopped trembling and I started yelling.

In fact, I was so loud that I wasn’t allowed to use a microphone. My words would resound in that small room. And it was good. The crowd embraced my volume and the words I flung at them. I could be myself at top volume, at full force. They loved how loud I was and how strongly I expressed myself. I could fill the air with my faults and failings, and it was OK. I was exposed. My idiosyncratic nature could drift through the smoky air of that poetry reading, and settle into the crowd. I was unafraid. I could let myself be Me.

I can still be a quiet person. I can still be shy and self-contained. But now I know that I can also be vibrant and vocal about who I am and what I think. Learning how to yell with my voice taught me to yell with more than just volume. I shout with my smart, nerdy vocabulary. I bellow by crying openly when I am moved by music or art. I roar by admitting my mistakes. I howl by not letting anyone get away with underestimating me. I believe in yelling.