Speak up. They may hate your boldness but you’ll hate yourself if you stay quiet. 

Due to shyness, I’ve intentionally been a mute for most of my life. I’d be the one with the answers in class but I’d also be the one who never had a word to say. After years of traditional schooling with hardcore principals, wannabe authoritative teachers and loyal cliques, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in my own space. The time alone has taught me many things about myself and I’ve developed a voice. There’s the voice that I share online which encapsulates my thoughts in words and imagery and I have found confidence vocally offline. “Jho Jho not mute anymore.”

What have I learned?

1. Some people live to contradict you. They will never be on the same page as you and you will probably become frustrated. However, you must learn to agree to disagree. Hold your ground until you have a valid reason to change your stance and learn to accept that we all interpret things differently. Five people can witness the same incident at the same time but they will have different tales to tell.

2. Your opinion may offend even if you did not intend to do so. 

3. Someone is applauding you for saying the things that they wish they had the courage to say but they may never verbally thank you. Remember, although there are people who do not see things your way, there will be others who share your thoughts. 

4. You may not always get the response that you expected or desired. Do not let this deter you from speaking freely in the future. Your opinions will always matter. 

5. Unspoken words are loads that your body cannot bear. No matter how hard you try, your thoughts will find a way to let themselves out. Do yourself a favour and say what you need to say before you reach a boiling point. Your entire body will appreciate it. 

Our instructor's painting

Speaking of expressing yourself…I had the delight of sipping a glass of beverage and munching on a helping of finger food while painting on a canvas. The air was cool, love music was playing in the background from a wedding party that was taking place nearby and the people who sat beside me 'min jus lub nonsense.' Who would have thought that stroking a brush back and forth, according to the guidelines of an instructor, would be so relaxing. If I was told to paint my soul, I would probably paint a pineapple or a chicken wing…definitely not a lighthouse.

As a group, we arranged a fun day with the painting instructors from Let’s Paint Antigua. We chose a theme, a meeting spot and confirmed a day and a time. Not one of us knew a thing about painting techniques but at the end of it all, we all posed for a picture with our works of art even though we felt they looked far from the original example.