The Congress Effect

This is not a post about politics. Instead, it’s a post about occupying the space that belongs to you, doubting yourself less, and being an amazing communicator because of it.  

 Confession time: I was one of those women whose tone in every conversation started out sending a message, “I’m sorry you have to put up with me speaking. I’ll be done soon!” The specific tone that is associated with a sense that you have no right to be where you are, saying what you’re saying, no matter what it is.  

 This would come out all the time, but I noticed it when I had to give my address. You see, I live on Congress Street. It’s a word most American people know. And it isn’t hard to spell. And it’s for precisely this reason that I realized my tendency.  

Whenever I needed my address to sign up for something, to mail something, to record something, I’d always be asked to spell it. Every time. Why was it happening? It is annoying! It didn’t happen to my husband.  And then it clicked. Here’s why: I was walking up to every person in America with the sense that I didn’t deserve their time. Even when they were being paid to help me. Even when they were paying me to help them. At the beginning of every relationship, I’d be offering myself to each new person as if I didn’t have the right to be there.  

And when you are asked your address and you almost whisper, “Congress….?” Well, that’s just hard to hear. And it’s ridiculous. I know where I live. I have a right to speak out. I have a right to confident annunciation.  

How often are you asked to spell your address?  (If it’s not some obscure Gaelic spelling, that is.)   

You have a right to be where you are. Without apologizing. Without folding inward. Without the tentativeness that can come from feeling like you don’t fit. Love and approve of yourself, plant your feet firmly and say it. Like you know it. Because you DO know it.   

Instead of whispering a plea for validation, lean in and announce as though you’ve never doubted it, “I live on Congress.” (Except use your address. Pro-tip.)