Josie Gritten Photography/

By Josie Gritten

I used to hate speaking out. Was crushingly shy at school, terrified of speaking in public, of raising my voice. I knew how I wanted to be – brave, strong, able to stand my ground and speak my truth, but I was just too sacred. 

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total cowering pushover – I stood up for kids being bullied; shut down people telling racist jokes; even helped organise a protest that led to girls being able to wear trousers as part of their school uniform. But these were either in-the-moment deeds or group acts where I could feel the strength of my peers alongside me. Anything that involved planned public speaking or being ‘seen’ by lots of people terrified me. 

But as I grew, life challenged me, bit by bit, as it does. I grew a little older, a little bolder, a little stronger. 

And then, in 2015, I discovered my voice: my voice and my bravery, and it was as though a whole new me had been awakened. 

I was in Embercombe, England on an incredible 5-day retreat called The Journey. I sang on the street – busked – and followed an extraordinary path of discovery that led me to step through my fear, to reach for my courage and to learn to speak up. 

Fear stands before me 
Present, real. 
Ash in my mouth 
Dry. Dead. 
Hands shake 
Palms wet,  
Slick with anxiety. 

I stare 
Too scared 
to venture forth. 
Too scared 
to step onward. 
Not ready 
For change. 

Deeply I breathe. 
Feel the connection 
to earth 
to sky 
to all. 

Strong I stand. 
A solid core 
Runs through me. 

I take a step. 
A small, tentative step 
but a step nonetheless. 
And I breathe. 
I step again. 
And I realise 
in my brave moment, 
My brave steps; 
I realise that 
I am doing it –  
This thing I feared. 

And that through  
Fear is transformed 
Into joy. 

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