I was always the girl who struggled to find her voice.
I would never raise my hand in class at school, despite often knowing the answer.
When I started getting bullied, I didn’t stand up for myself.
One time a teacher groped me, and I stayed silent.
I’ve often been hurt in friendships, but not voiced it and just cut them out of my life instead.
A little boy shouted the word paki at me while I walked passed him playing in a park. And my mouth would not open.
Tears were flooding my face during sex once, but I buried my sadness and let him finish.
Because I was afraid.
I’ve always been afraid.
Of speaking up. Shouting out. Finding my voice, and using it.
There have been so many moments in my life when I’ve wanted to scream. But I let the moment come and pass. I’d feel a tidal wave of emotion rising in my throat, and that’s where it would stay. Pressure building with every day that passed, and so many words left unsaid.
I battled for a decade through my teens and early twenties with a lack of self-love, confidence, and self-worth.
I didn’t feel confident having a conversation with anyone unless I’d downed a few double vodkas first.
There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the world. Times where I looked in the mirror and despised the reflection staring back at me. I wished I could wake up as somebody else. Somebody prettier, smarter, louder, and sexier than me.
I struggled to love my Asian skin and my arching nose. My breasts barely fill an A-cup, and I convinced myself I needed implants before any guy would find me attractive.
I was living a half-life, and I was playing small.
And I was clueless to the fact that I was taught as a girl to hate myself, through the stream of images that confronted me on a daily basis. The magazines, movies, subliminal messages, and adverts that teach us we are not enough as we are.
Naturally, it doesn’t take long before we believe them.
So we buy the make-up, the hair dye, or the push-up bra. We get the implants, the lip fillers, or the “designer” vagina. We can’t stop apologizing for existing in the world. We feel guilty saying yes, saying no, and changing our mind. We devote our life to pleasing others. We stay quiet when we want to roar because we’re told that’s not how a lady behaves.
I wasn’t aware of how society had stripped me of my power this way over the years. And I had no idea how to begin taking it back. Because how do you begin re-writing a story you’ve been taught to believe since you were born?
In my experience, there’s no quick fix. There’s no overnight cure. I wish there was, but it doesn’t work that way. Years of learned hatred and inequality won’t disappear with a snap of your fingers. You just make a conscious choice to start rewiring your belief system, no matter how impossible it seems, and you keep climbing that mountain all the way to the top.
It’s not easy. There are always setbacks and moments when you feel like turning back. But you have to keep going.
One day I started writing, and everything began to change. At first, I didn’t really notice. But as time went on, I felt my soul-stirring, and energy rising through my entire being.
I wasn’t writing for anyone but me. I was working as a fashion designer at the time, and writing in every spare moment I could find.
I’d wake up at 5 am many mornings, just so I could have an hour of quiet to create before the madness began.
I’d say no to cocktails after work, hurry back home, get comfy in bed and write until sleep crept in.
Pouring my heart out onto the page was a way for me to find my voice, and speak my truth.
It might sound strange, but putting myself out there to millions of strangers didn’t terrify me the way I thought it would. In fact, it was incredibly liberating and exciting to know that someone 5000 miles away was reading something I wrote, and was finding meaning or comfort in those words.
And not only did writing about it help me make sense of my own pain and scars; it has helped millions of women around the world begin their journey of healing, too.
That’s the funny thing about soul work. When you choose to show up and follow your soul in this life, it truly has the power to change you, to change others, and to change the world.
And our journey of healing and self-discovery is never over.
Even as I write this, I can feel a small release within. I connect with my heart and stand tall in front of my fears as I dare to write about the things that haunt me in the shadows.
It wasn’t long before I realized this was what I was meant to be doing.
Being able to write things that helped women rediscover their power within, and journey back to themselves was a gift that I was meant to share. It was a gift that I had to use, and nobody else could fill those shoes in quite the same way.
So I plotted my escape plan. I saved every penny I could and began to freelance on the side. I built up my clients and eventually quit my job. I wrote my first book, then I wrote two more. I started working with women one-to-one in private coaching sessions and on retreats, helping them learn to love themselves again, the way I learned to love myself.
At the same time, I packed a suitcase and traveled the world with my partner. We set up home in Bali, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. We hopped back to the UK and Ireland in between to see family & friends. I’d always dreamed of being able to work for myself, design my own schedule, and do work that felt fulfilling and meaningful. And by trusting my intuition and following my soul, I manifested that dream into my reality.
I continue to write and do things that scare me each day.
I push my own boundaries, and journey all the way to the edge. I enjoy taking soul stretches because I know that deep challenge brings deep expansion. When I feel shame or fear, I write about it, and I don’t hold back. I found my voice, and I use it – even when I’m afraid to. Especially then.
Last year, I launched She Rose Revolution – an empowering publishing revolution created by women, for women. We focus on sharing empowering, educational, and inspirational stories. We are providing women with the opportunity to learn how to tap into their creativity, discover their unique voice, and write and publish a book through our writing program. We are actively seeking out powerful stories and journeys written by incredible women, in the hopes of publishing as many as we possibly can; filling our world up with the light it seeks.
I believe my calling here is to hold a mirror to your soul, so you can see how beautiful you already are.
You don’t need to change. You don’t need to play the comparison game. You don’t need to hide who you really are.
The truth is, I am a woman who walked in your shoes not so long ago, unaware of the true fire and magic I held within.
Now I feel it roar inside me every day.
You too, beautiful soul, were born to roar.
You do not need permission. Enough with the silencing and censoring.
Stand up. Walk tall. And meet the darkness.
Howl like a wolf in the fullness of the moonlight.
Rage like the unstoppable waves of the vast ocean.
Scream like the witch within you who stood in the fire as she was burned at the stake.
Roar like a woman who has been silenced for lifetimes, and is finally waking up to her power.
Shani Jay is the Founder of She Rose Revolution, a Bestselling Author, and Empowerment Leader for women.