Voice. To me voice represents the means by which we communicate what we care about to others. It might best be described as the framework we offer to others about ourselves. While oral…it also has significant non-verbal components. How do you think about voice?
“When you’re constantly worrying about what other people think you lose your voice,” said a technical writer and analyst who was in her mid-40’s and the mother of two boys. She was one of many women who spoke with me recently about transition and the role that voice plays in it. It wasn’t necessarily the workforce pressures that were causing this woman to silence herself. It was more the swirl of daily life that included expectations about parenting, demands from her community and a need to support members of her extended family.
Amidst the swirl of your daily existence do you find ways to exercise your voice?
In transition I’ve learned more about voice from its absence than from its presence. For many years – unbeknownst to me – I went quiet. I don’t mean I was silent or retiring. Instead I didn’t introduce my perspective. I was excellent at bringing other people out. It was an impenetrable shield.
The woman whom I quote above went on. “I feel like I’m most authentic when I’ve slept, when I feel like I’ve had a little time to myself and I feel like I’ve got myself back. By meeting my husband’s needs, my job’s needs, my children’s needs, I lose myself. I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally drained. I guess what I’m saying is that it is hard to hear your voice and your authenticity and your confidence when you feel tired. So my voice gets lost because what do I truly want, what is going to make me truly happy? Well I can’t even think about that because I’ve got a thousand things to do.”
Have you ever walked in such a world?
I’ve learned that finding and developing your voice is an important milestone in transition. It can be elusive at the beginning as we shed influences and circumstances that are tied to our former selves.
I’ve also come to understand that it isn’t binary. You don’t either have voice or not. You develop it. Exercise it. You begin small and cultivate it. It grows.
I now think about voice in the same way I think about sit ups. If you do a few everyday they get easier and easier. If you ignore them for a month or so it is the hardest thing to simply do one.
Today I hope you find a moment to exercise your voice and appreciate the value it alone brings to yourself and to others..
Prior Posts on Voice
Her Place at the Table and Thanksgiving Treats
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