I became obsessed with Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondents dinner speech the moment I saw it. I loved it all: a woman telling honest and raw jokes to a group of people least likely to appreciate them, her voice and how it projects and carries so much confidence, the writing, the performance- all of it. I was dying to know how it might feel. I wanted to feel myself saying those things, unapologetically. Because most of the time, I’m the quiet one in the group. Most of the time I feel very shy and inarticulate. I’m so scared to upset anyone that it feels easier to remain quiet.
As I started memorizing her speech I began to notice a “Michelle Wolf Effect” in my life. I was louder when I spoke, I projected more. I began to use some of her timing and cadence while in conversation with other people and I started to give less of a fuck.
I grew up as a Mormon woman, where the expectation is that it’s best to be polite, quiet, and respectful. I was also abused as a child and forced to remain quiet. My formative years played out at a low volume. Not speaking up was a survival tactic, a way I learned to move through the world. “Stay quiet and do what you are told.” “Be obedient.” “If you tell, no one will believe you.” Silence was safe, but I grew to resent my lack of voice. Of course, the “Michelle Wolf effect” didn’t start overnight. I didn’t watch her speech and then all of a sudden have more of a voice. But her speech provided me a push in a louder direction. It’s been years of therapy and anxiety and failure and conversation with friends.But the month in which I memorized her speech and then performed it on camera, instigated a total shift. Nothing bad happened when I spoke up. I didn’t upset anyone if I was loud or spoke out of turn or said a mean joke about person I don’t even know. I didn’t get in trouble, in fact the opposite transpired in my daily life. I felt stronger and I felt seen.
Thank you, Michelle Wolf. All the love.