Raise your hand if you have strong opinions. Raise your hand if you are willing to fight for those opinions. I cannot see the rest of you, but my hand is raised.

My mom had a plaque in her office with the saying, “Those of you who think you know everything are really annoying to those of us who do.” (Sadly, the original has been lost, but at least I have the words). We used to laugh about it regularly. How we wished we could always be right.

I have written about my struggles to find a place to belong, to find a place to sit at the proverbial table. That reality is a large part of my struggle, feeling that only certain voices are allowed and that my voice is not one of them.

Social media makes it easy to censor the voices we hear. Do not agree with someone? Block them. Do not like a statement? Call them out from the safety of your keyboard. We do not have to try to find common ground and love each other despite our differences.

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I thought it would be easy—find a group of individuals who shared my passions, my beliefs, and then I would thrive.

Guess what? It is not easy. There always seems to be something at each table I do not agree with, an opinion, a project, an action. So, I bristle. I feel uncomfortable. I get defensive. And I leave. Not the best course of action when you are trying to belong.

This brings me to my mom’s plaque: Those of you who think you know everything are really annoying to those of us who do.

I have 50+ years of knowledge stuffed in my brain. Some good. Some bad. Some really serve no purpose. It shapes my opinions and how I interact with others. Everyone in the room has similar knowledge stuffed in their brains. And each of us wants to share that knowledge in our own way. Some are loud. Some are quiet. Some sit back and take it all in and then consolidate ideas (I really wish I was that person).

RELATED: I No Longer Sit At Tables Where I Might Be The Topic When I Get Up

It is quite easy to believe yours is the only voice that matters. Your idea is the best. The reality is every voice needs to be heard and honored for the group to work.

In my work, we talk about consent. Consent for my idea to be placed on the side. Consent to move forward with the idea the group thinks is best even if it is not my idea. Consent to support the idea even if I do not agree with it. Hoping that at some point my idea will be the one everyone will consent to move forward.

This is not easy when you like to be in charge or are particularly passionate about a topic, but it’s necessary if you want to find a seat at the table. After all, only when we allow every voice to be heard and honored will the table work.

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Cindy Houlden

Sharing my life journey is therapeutic. In the past I have used CaringBridge and Facebook. I have come to the realization that I need to use a blog site. This is my first attempt; so I apologize in advance if I fail. Who am I? I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. And I am a cancer survivor; who suffers from depression. Through this blog I will share my story of my journey with you. I truly appreciate those who make this journey with me and I hope we can make each other’s journey positive. Thanks for joining me!

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