Everyone has a different answer to this question, and others might argue that it isn’t hard at all for a person to express themselves through words. At the core of this question I believe the answer can be found with one single word that expands into many different possible explanations: Atmosphere. Atmosphere includes everything from friends and family, to your location, and even your culture.
I find it harder to express myself through verbal communication, because both of my parents were raised in a culture where it wasn’t socially acceptable to sit and talk about your feelings at the dinner table. They didn’t have complete support from adult figures to express themselves, and as they put it, “Our parents were very narrow minded and they didn’t believe in the whole “Let’s talk about our feelings and ideals.” Even though my parents have tried to change, It has still played a minor factor into my upbringing. Although my parents are supportive and more than willing to talk to me about anything I feel or have to say, it’s something they’re not used to and it’s quite uncommon. It’s uncomfortable as well, because I always feel like there is a correct answer that I have to give, or else I will sound like too much of complainer or oversharer. Since I don’t have the confident ability to express myself with words around my family, it definitely harder for me to use verbal expression with friends, classmates, and even distant relatives.
Another example of atmosphere affecting expression through words can be found in the acclaimed novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The main character, Holden, a young man struggling to cope with the idea that he must leave his childhood behind and enter adulthood, has a hard time finding anybody that will listen to him. Throughout the novel, he is very indecisive and he always seems to come off with ideas from the deep end that many cannot comprehend, such as asking taxi drivers where the ducks go when the pond freezes over. In Holden’s atmosphere, he is set on his ideas, but his friends and family have affected the way he chooses to express himself verbally, because Holden has convinced himself that no one can really understand his thoughts and emotions. It’s almost as if his friends and family have made him anti- expressive through the many times they have tried but failed to understand him. In this particular atmosphere the expressor is not challenged with incapability, but the incapability of others to accustom to what Holden is trying to say. Sometimes, it is not others faults. Sometimes, we express with words that very few will understand.
We fear not being heard because of who we are and where we come from. In a short essay, How To Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldúa, depicts this reality by pointing out that she was made fun of and punished for speaking broken and heavy accented english. The atmosphere surrounded by her did not allow her to express herself through verbal communication, because no one would listen. Even though she was smart, everyone around her would see her as an ignorant immigrant. After a while I can’t imagine how difficult it becomes to express yourself without the fear of being judged or shut down.
There is also an alternative answer to this question. Many others are outstanding at expressing themselves through their actions and body language rather than their words. Their atmosphere has crafted them into efficient action expressors rather than verbal communicators. These are usually people who have a harder time saying what they need to get across and rather show exactly what they mean.
In the beginning of the year I attended a sportsmanship conference on behalf of my cross country team. There were representatives from each sport in our school. As our guest speaker was talking about what it takes to be leader he asked us to move our right arm in a circular motion above our heads. After three minutes of talking and giving us examples he told us we were ready. He asked us to put our hand on our chin and as he said that he placed his hand on his cheek. We all followed him and put our hand on our cheeks when he specifically said our chin.
He started shouting, “Is that your chin brother?”
“ I had no idea my chin was located on my cheek!”
We all erupted in laughter at the mistake we had all made. When everyone settled down he explained that this activity was an example of actions speaking louder than words. He said, “Sometimes, We do things and people will follow, because actions are sometimes more powerful than any words that are said. Whether it’s a good or bad example, others are bound to follow. People might not remember what you say, but they will remember what you did and the impact that you made by your actions.” This was a clear definition of validated expression through actions. And maybe this is why people find it harder to express themselves through words. Maybe because words aren’t enough for them. Maybe it’s harder to express yourself through words, because you simply can’t. No words can ever be enough to express your thoughts and emotions.
Some of us are shy, and some of us have too much to say. Some of us are great verbal communicators and some of us are better action orientated. I think Holden was trying to communicate that it’s difficult for people to express themselves through words whether a person’s well at verbal expression, because it can be difficult for a person’s atmosphere to understand and process an individual’s thoughts and emotions. Whether it’s harder to express ourselves through words depends on the person’s willingness to break all difficult emotional and social boundaries to express oneself.