You were known to be the child that was often quiet, shy, and reserved at a young age, but you started to find your voice as you navigate life as a teenager and now as a grown black lady in her 20’s (turning 23 this year). However, this journey hasn’t been easy, from not being understood to wanting to keep the peace; your environment and the experiences you have been through have influenced whether or not you felt comfortable voicing your opinion. But as you surround yourself with people who encourage you to speak and express your views, it was like a light within you had been turned on, and you knew that you needed to let it out.
Before I go on about my journey of finding my voice and owning it, I have to reflect on the moments when I did not know the power of my voice.
One example of this was my experience of being bullied as a child. My 4-foot timid self (now 5’3 still short lol) was a target of name-calling by my male classmates at my primary school. The comments mainly were on my height, something little me couldn’t control, yet my male classmates enjoyed reminding me that I was short or, as they called it, ‘midget.’ This experience ironically made me feel small. Though I tried to speak up for myself, I was like a scared turtle hiding in its shell, refusing to come out. I kept this horrible experience to myself. I guess I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. Yet, it would be something I would later regret (trauma/your past has a funny way of creeping back in your life as an adult, especially when you haven’t fully healed or subconsciously ignored it for so long, but that is a whole different story). Moreover, I kept to myself and was often quiet during my time at primary school and only spoke during lessons or to the small friendship group I had at the time.
However, my experience during secondary school and university days was completely different. Entering school talent shows, discovering my love for storytelling, leading discussions, making new friends that embraced me for who I was, and being part of the drama and debate club. These were all avenues to express my unique voice without any judgment. These experiences taught me that my voice was in me all along; I just needed to believe in it, use it, and know that my feelings and opinions matter and are valid. (sounding like a line from a Disney movie, “if only you believe,” lol). This, in turn, helped me with my personal growth and self-love journey in finding my voice.
If you ever get the chance to meet me, you either may encounter my shy, socially awkward, and observant self or the extroverted chatterbox in me that never knows when to shut up. Although it hasn’t been easy, I have learned to embrace both sides of me, knowing there are times when I speak and times when I don’t, all depending on my mood, and understanding both are valid. If you are like me, possessing what some will call introvert and extrovert traits (better known as an ambivert). Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself to others constantly; you have ownership over your voice, and you can decide when you want to use it and times when you simply want to listen. (There is also power in listening too).
If we keep it 100, you’re not always going to like your voice, you might even find it annoying at times, like when you find yourself replaying an old voice note you sent to a friend and cringing inside, but either way, it’s still your voice. I don’t know about you, but when I get a cold, my voice goes, or I’ve been singing from the top of my lungs. For a split second, I reflected on the times my voice was clear, and I could talk to my heart’s content (it’s interesting how we only seem to appreciate the little things when they’re gone or, in this case, temporarily gone). We often take our voices for granted as one of the simplest human communication tools, especially with most of society spending their time communicating online. We can easily Snapchat someone or send a DM on Instagram. Though social media will make us believe we are more connected than ever, I think connecting and talking to someone in person can’t be replicated through a device alone.
For instance, have you ever met someone and been so intrigued by their voice, from how they pronounce things to how their voice commands attention or makes you feel warm inside (or I’m I simply describing my crush lol). There is beauty in each of our voices. People’s voices have changed the course of history, moved a crowd to tears or laughter, spread ‘The Good News,’ and brought parents joy. Our voices have helped those who can’t communicate physically with their mouth but with other forms of communication, and all in all, our voices connect us to the very core of what it means to be human.
Now I’m not saying you have to be the next Martin Luther King or the next Maya Angelo or even the next Adele, but what I do hope you take from this post is that your voice does matter, and you do have ownership over it, so use it to your heart’s content!
And so, I leave you with the quote to ponder on:
“In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.” – John Grisham.