In Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” there’s a scene where Ariel gives up her voice to Ursula, the evil sea witch, so that she can walk on land and be something she’s not.
While I haven’t negotiated with the devil, and I never had a singing voice to give up, I’ve spent a lot of the past year or two in a funk. I gave up my voice to my own worst enemy: myself.
During college, poetry was my escape. Imagery and rhyme scheme allowed me to convey the emotions I couldn’t communicate in everyday life. I coped with love, loss, and even episodes of Glee. Then, life got chaotic. I struggled with all the stress in my life, encountered situations I didn’t know how to handle, and went through a minor meltdown upon graduating undergrad and starting The Real Life Pit Stop Known As Grad School And Student Teaching. Amongst all this, other than when it was for a poetry class, I couldn’t find the desire to write poetry or perform at poetry readings. I felt like a part of me had died, and I threw all my writing energy into GingerSass.
On Friday, something within me changed. I thought about collapsing on my bed and watching depressing episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, but, on a whim, I decided to attend Out of the Box, a local open mic I last attended over 3.5 years ago.
Attending OotB felt like a homecoming. It was hosted in the basement of a church by Pandora Scooter. (She’s fabulous; I actually want to try to arrange for her to perform at school for my students as a part of our performance poetry unit.) I read my post about Coming Out Day, and the poem I wrote in response to my students attending Dodge for the first time. After I was finished, Pandora shook my hand and thanked me for what I do. I also had quite a few people come up to me afterwards and compliment my piece, and I even connected with another teacher dealing with some of the same issues and feelings I have been dealing with.
Listening to the various poetry, musical, and other sorts of performances really warmed my heart. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I was getting my voice back. Everything seemed right in the world, and it really meant a lot to be a part of such a wonderful, inviting group.
Oftentimes lately, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my voice. I haven’t had the time to write, and when I have, it’s usually been posts about something involving my student teaching internship. I’ve written maybe 2 poems since April, which is devastating to me since I usually write 2-3 poems a week. I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis with the loss of my voice and my lack of writing. All of this combined with going to Out of the Box on Friday has helped me realized something: I really am my own worst enemy, and I am definitely the only person preventing myself from embracing my voice as a writer and a poetic performer. I have nowhere else to go but up, and I am so extremely grateful that I decided to go on Friday night. Without OotB, I don’t know if I would’ve found the desire to find my voice again. I’m finally getting closer to being the me I want to be.