A story about how I struggled voicing myself, my inner emotions and my sense of identity. Through the perspective of a soul-searching young adult, I explain how my fear of judgement came about.
I have always struggled with using my voice in a sense that verbalizes my true feelings, wants and needs. I still do find it hard in this present time, it definitely is a learning process.
Something that has only come to my attention recently is this feeling of being stuck between two worlds, or ‘languages’ as such.
Moving to the other side of the world (from Belgium to Australia) at age 14 was a really big change for me.
As it would be for any teenager who is just about to discover their true identity and beliefs. I never realised how big of an impact it had on me and my mental development as a teenager.
It was scary and full of emotion. I wasn’t open to the experience at first, I thought to myself
"how could my parents do this to me, to us? Taking me away from my life, my friends and my home."
This process of course involved a lot of change, uncertainty and the need to adapt. I had to rediscover my sense of identity again. This emotional roller coaster that I had no idea how to ride, was already hard enough.
New place, new language
Having to learn a completely new language and suddenly speaking it 24/7, that was also tough!
Now, if you knew me from the beginning when I first went to high school in Australia, I am sure you can still hear my Belgium accent in your head! Nowadays, people don’t even notice that English isn’t my first language. In fact, I now find it a lot easier to speak English than Flemish (my first language).
Where I am going with this however, isn’t about the learning of a new language.
It is about completely starting from scratch, in verbally expressing myself, my thoughts and feelings to others in a way that allowed them to understand who I am as a person.
I often felt misunderstood. Not because I was using incorrect words or pronouncing things wrong but because I had no idea how to express my sense of identity in a world that was so foreign to me. A lot went through my head (both in English and Flemish). So many ideas, thoughts and wisdom I wanted to share, but I simply didn’t know how? When I tried I often felt misunderstood because I always felt like I couldn’t get my point across correctly or as if my actions came across wrong.
The need to explain myself
It led to always feeling the need to explain myself to others.
Why I do the things I do, what I have learned and who I TRULY am regardless of the mistakes I made.
Whether it was having to explain to a work colleague why I couldn’t cover a shift, why I suddenly cancelled plans because I wasn’t in the right state of mind or why I made a mistake. I ALWAYS felt the need to provide reasoning and to make sure that the people I was dealing with would 100% understand my true intentions.
I did this because I was so worried about what people would think of me. Others' acceptance was something I strived for. Basically, fear of judgement became my biggest enemy.
Judging someone is something we all do once in a while or have all experienced at least once. Such a powerful yet damaging action that we as human beings are all bound to experience. Yet it is far from how we should be treating other.
My view on judgement
What I am trying to say is, judgement is something we can ALL improve on. If you feel like others are judging you, let them. You don’t HAVE to explain yourself because they will never fully understand you, your internal thought processes and your personal experiences. Plus they don’t need to because that’s the beauty of it being YOUR life and theirs being theirs. (Trust me, I am still learning to let go of the fact that there will always be at least someone that will be judgmental towards me).
If you find yourself judging someone else, think again. Because you are probably far from the truth and you have taken one step back from connection, change and personal growth.
My overall advice to you is this:
Focus on yourself and growing your own sense of identity. Don’t let criticism or judgement hold you back from becoming who you want to be and your growing process as a person. Don’t put your energy into someone else's life, put it in your own! That my dear people, is the key to life. TRUST ME.
Written by whole-hearted Laura Kessen
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