Anyone that knows me well, would know that I am naturally talkative. Lol. I am the loudest and the most outspoken person you’ll meet in a room and I have no apologies for that.
But… lol, I couldn’t talk for the first few weeks after my relocation. No sir, I didn’t go dumb.
The first day I resumed school, I looked great and excited, and when I walked into my class, to my shock, out of the 10k+ international students who got accepted into my school, I was the only black person in my whole class! No, not the only Nigerian, THE ONLY BLACK PERSON!
The rest of my class were all white, not just any white, they were all Irish!! (if you know the Irish accent, you will understand better).
I walked into class and even though everyone was warm and tried to interact with me, I couldn’t say much, I just smiled and nodded with a hint of “ÿeaaa” “good” and “that’s nice”. That was all I could get myself to say.
The class was amazing, and the course and module were super interesting. A class on Digital Communication taught in a well-descriptive and interactive approach, I mean, this is my scene, I want to join the conversation, I want to talk about my blog and my experience as a content writer who has worked with a few local and international brands, I want to talk about my knowledge of customer relationship and multichannel communications. Omo, so many things I want to talk about but I couldn’t even open my mouth.
An 8hr interactive class and I didn’t say anything! It wasn’t just any topic, It was a topic I loved!! I went home and kept thinking about that class and so many things I could have said. I comforted myself by telling myself that there was no need to interact in class anyways. “What do you even need interaction for? just go to class, sit quietly, learn and head home after”
So, I somehow agreed with myself that it’s for the best. The next class which was the following week was even worst! We were all made to introduce ourselves(since we didn’t do it in the first class) and say what we do and our career interests. I mean, this was a great time to sell myself and to wow everyone. It got to my turn and I started breathing fast and hard, “I am different, they all speak and understand themselves, they won’t understand me even if I tried talking, How do I speak to make them understand, I will sound so different and it won’t make sense to them” the voice in my head just kept going on and on. At this point, my heart started pounding uncontrollably and my mouth as I tried to open it began to shake. I tried to talk but couldn’t talk out loud or clearly, that was when I realized I was having an anxiety attack! I took a very deep breath while they all stared at me and I managed to let out a few words.
“My name is Possible and I’m a customer success manager with a fintech company,” I said shakingly while trying to still find my breath.
The instructor moved on and didn’t ask me any follow-up questions like she did with others (she probably noticed how anxious I was).
That day was horrible in every way. I got home and decided to speak up about my experience. I dropped a tweet in the Nigerians-in-the-UK community and talked about what was happening to me, and in some seconds, I got several replies from people who have had similar experiences, different people talked about how they overcame the fear and the common thing about their comments was “Dont overthink it, you have an accent but so do they. Don’t try to imitate their accent, speak naturally and clearly, they will understand, but even if they don’t, well, it’s not your fault”
Those comments made so much sense to me and also knowing that there were lots of people who have had similar experiences was enough to encourage and ginger me.
I speak well, my English is clear, I am loud enough for even the deaf to hear, and I am not the “sit quietly and go home” kind of student. So what exactly is the challenge here?? And that was when I decided to speak!
The next class was a topic on SEO and Blogging, and while the rest of the class had little or no knowledge about it, It was a topic I could chew raw and so I DID!
For the first time in class, I talked and everyone listened, I kept talking to the point the instructor went “Possible, it’s okay please, you are already teaching the class what I’m about to teach”. We all laughed and that was when I realized that sometimes our only limitations are in our heads. That tiny voice telling us things that are not real, and as soon as we get out of our heads and ignore that voice, EVERYTHING CHANGES!