I always used to sing when I was at my unhappiest. Through lousy student jobs, hideous break-ups and life’s disappointments I would trill away, sounding happy as a lark.

Except, of course, I wasn’t. But that didn’t matter because the act of singing seemed to convince my soul otherwise.

Later, I learned to write rather than sing and to use those words to light up the world when it felt dark. I still do that, in my books and on social media as well as here.

For a long time, it was too painful. I couldn’t read, let alone write.

Then I realised that if you let the world, or some of the people within it, silence you then what do you have left? Your voice, your essence is all that you have, in one form or another.

I remembered the wise words of my old acting teacher, Nina, who became a close friend, that shyness can be another form of selfishness.

After all, who are you not to let your light shine? Or to sing even when your voice might be cracking with the effort it takes?

I have written some of my best stuff when it was an effort even to breathe. I have come up with ideas in moments that should have slayed me stone dead. Except they didn’t.

Today, when I posted something on social media, it was with the heaviest of hearts.

Here is what I wrote:

“Doom and gloom everywhere you look or listen. People understandably terrified right now. Let me give you some words of wisdom gleaned from living in fear – do an Oscar Wilde and fix your eyes on the stars. Just one will do. One bright spark of hope. Find that and focus.”

Not everyone will agree with those words. Some will outright reject them. For others, they may just be the thing that gets them through another hour or even a day.

You see, your words don’t have to be perfect. Those aren’t. My singing certainly wasn’t. But the very act of writing them unleashes the power to change things for you and for others.

If you have something to say, say it. Or write it, paint it, dance it…sing it. Out loud.

Did I ever sing myself happy?

Oh yes.

Do I write myself happy?

I’m happier already.

Or at least at peace with a world that felt dangerous before I sat down to write this.

Try it. Remember the words of my old friend, Nina. Shyness is selfishness because you are keeping your brilliance from others. Be that beacon of you’d like to see, the torch that slices through the darkness.

The north star that guides the lost and reassures the lonely.

Light the way in whatever way works for you. And then you can bask in the afterglow.