As a young child, my father had a phrase, I might even say it was a mantra, that he often communicated to my sisters and to me, ‘Think before you talk.” Even as I type it out now, I feel the eye roll of an adolescent child begin to take over. As a young female in a South Asian immigrant family, I interpreted this phrase as ‘be quiet’ or ‘speak when spoken to’ and I did just that. I was an introverted, quiet child who spoke rarely in the school setting. I often kept a long and winding inner narrative alive in my head but rarely shared my thoughts with others. I did not think my words mattered to others. Now as many years have passed, I actually find myself thinking of this phrase with new meaning.
As an adult, a leader, an educator, and a parent I have learned through many small and big moments that this was not the full interpretation of the phrase.