Things show up when we are taking steps forward and expanding our comfort zone. It’s normal.  

Sometimes we even create our own roadblocks in our mind and use them as the perfect reason to stay where we are.

For me, one of those roadblocks was my accent.

I speak three languages fluently, with an accent. Yes, this includes my native Finnish as somehow I managed to create an accent even before I moved abroad. I still remember the day when it was brought to my attention…

I had just started 7th grade and moved to a bigger school where my class size had almost tripled. We introduced ourselves during a class. I was super nervous about speaking in front of my new classmates, and could feel my heart pounding as I went through my introduction in my head. When my turn came, I managed to say what I wanted, but then the teacher asked me a question.

She inquired if one of my parents was a non-native speaker as according to her my accent was a bit off. I still remember how some of my classmates laughed. I wanted the Earth to swallow me up… In those days, I preferred to blend rather than stand out. I immediately felt cast out, as the girl with a funny accent. God knows where I had got it from, maybe I carried it over from my past lives.

For years I felt ashamed of my accent. When I moved abroad, I was often asked a common icebreaker question along the lines of “I hear an accent, where are you from?”. It made me squirm. Each query increased my hesitation to speak up. I felt how my self-confidence dropped immediately and I became again the shy girl from 7th grade. It didn’t matter when I got compliments about my accent or my voice, because in my mind, I had combined my accent and a feeling of not being good enough.

When I started my coaching business, I knew I had to start sharing my message. But I struggled as I believed that nobody would be interested to hear me because I have an accent… I did not want to be in a spotlight. I simply wanted to hide and I did shy away from putting my work out there.

This shifted when I listened to Arianna Huffington’s opening speech for the University of Santa Monica’s Class 2015. There she was on the stage, powerfully joking about her journey with her accent. She shared how she had tried to lose her accent for years until she chose to let it be and accept it. I realized that although I created a negative association with my accent, it did not make me not good enough, it did not make me less worthy. Those were just stories that I had made up. I could share my work and inspire people, even when I have an accent, just like Arianna did. And that opened a whole new door for me.

“The obstacles you face aren’t roadblocks to your goals – they’re stepping stones to your success.”  – Author Unknown

Keep shining your Light and sharing your gifts!