Dan and I went to see this movie the other day “Eight Grade”, it was a good movie – but most of all was the meaning of it, the message and what it could mean to others. There’s certain things that the main character “Kayla” said that I feel resonates with how I felt as I was trying to put Selective Mutism completely behind me. Mostly in my teens when I did talk to others, but found it really difficult. The movie is not about Selective Mutism, and even though the main character finds it difficult to be herself and talk a lot to the people at her school she does not have Selective Mutism, but I know there’s certain things and feelings being explained in that movie that you for sure have felt yourself if you struggle or have struggled with SM, most likely on a different scale – but it’s just a nice thing being able to listen someone speak and explain things in a more childlike way, somehow it becomes more real and honest.
This was said in the movie;
“I’m really like nervous all the time. … It’s like I’m waiting in line for like a roller coaster and that stupid like butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling you get. I get that all the time. And then I never get the feeling after you ride the roller coaster.”
I remember walking around constantly feeling this way. There was never a moment to relax and not think or worry about anything and everything. And it just kept on going like that.
She also talked about confidence.
“A big part of confidence is being brave, and you can’t be brave without being scared”
At the end of the movie she said these words, amongst others like “pretend you have confidence and that will somehow generate real confidence”.
That is something I felt I had to do as I was trying to get rid of my anxiety when I was younger. I believed in myself, always, but I did not have a lot of confidence in doing anything or saying anything when I was around others. So I just started pretending. It sounds so easy, but it feels like the most difficult thing in the world for people struggling with Selective Mutism – pretend you have confidence? How are you supposed to do that when you can’t say a word, right?
Like I said this is what I started doing after I had challenged myself for years with the little things, that I’ve talked about previously – the small steps that matters the most. After getting through it I was able to be myself a bit more, or at least answer and have short conversations. I knew I had to challenge myself on different levels if I wanted to get to where I one day saw myself. I was in my teens at that time. I saw people around me daily do and say things and not even think twice about it, so I started saying to myself I could do it to – I should do it because then one day I might even be like them – just fully be myself and not be one bit concerned or worried about it, because I knew in my heart there really wasn’t any reason to be.
And just remember it’s not always going to be comfortable, nice feelings, a safe environment… In the moment it might feel worth it to stop challenging yourself so you don’t have to face those feelings, face the unsafe and scary – but it’s so important to keep telling yourself this is what makes me grow, makes me better and stronger. Like I always think – people are just people, who cares? We won’t be here for long so just be yourself and enjoy the great things in life, share your opinions and be proud of who you are. Life’s too short. Take on the challenges and don’t be too hard on yourself along the way. You can do anything. You just have to believe it yourself.