I’ve been into singing since I was very young. Most people don’t know this, but I started singing at weddings when I was barely 13 years old. So I was in various bands with people who were way older than me. Sometimes, there would be some problem. When I tried to suggest a solution, the adults ignored me. I remember once, they went round and round, and ended up doing what I had suggested earlier. Sometimes, someone would repeat what I said louder and they got praised for their wisdom. I would sit in disbelief as they took in all the praise. It got to a point where I didn’t even bother to chip in. I realized I had no voice. I just sat there, did what they wanted me to do, and left for home. I didn’t say much then, but I observed the way they treated me – someone they thought was young and inexperienced.
Some two months ago, my friend was getting married. It was early in the morning, and we were busy dressing up, getting our hairs done, ready for the big day. We had two little girls in the bridal party that needed finishing touches on their hair. One girl’s hair was done, but the other girl’s hair was giving me problems. Her hair was shorter, so I was having a hard time getting the hair clip to hold.
One little girl kept trying to suggest something, but all of us, the adults, were ignoring her. We were trying our own way which just wasn’t working. The girl tried to say it again, but our voices drowned her little voice. Then I remembered little me – how sometimes, I was never given the chance to be heard, and how voiceless I was. I felt bad for ignoring her. I told everyone to keep quiet.
“This girl has been trying to say something and we are not listening,” I said, “let’s listen.”
We all kept quiet, and she suggested something new. I tried to do what she said, and yes, you guessed it, the hair clip held up!
I thanked her for her genius idea, and I told her my story… How people didn’t listen to me when I was just a young girl in a band and how that made me feel. I told her, “you have a voice. What you say matters. It may not even be the best solution, but you still need to be heard.” I think she may have been confused lol, like is this still about the hair clip? But my hope was that she’d always remember that being young doesn’t mean you can’t have a say in a room full of people older than you, and that we all deserve to be heard. Our voices matter.
Even though I am older, sometimes, I still get into the same situations where older people don’t want to listen to what I have to say. They think I am inexperienced and I can’t have my own opinion, or I’m just there to play and waste time. I still remember one conference I went to where one of the themes was giving young people a chance and a voice.
“They are not the leaders of tomorrow, but of today,” one speaker bellowed, as the audience clapped. During the lunch break, several people came up to me and asked, “aren’t you too young to be here?” I mean, y’all were nodding your heads, clapping along and agreeing that you’ll give us a chance some minutes ago! That’s when I realized that we still have a long way to go. And I felt like that small girl in a band full of older people who didn’t want to listen.
Anyway, I hope you know that even though you are young, you deserve to be heard. I hope you know that your experience, skills and expertise is valuable even though the ‘adults’ don’t seem to care or notice. I’ll say it again: YOU DESERVE TO BE HEARD. Your voice MATTERS. I also hope that one day, when you are older, you remember how powerless you felt, and you will give young people the chance to be heard.