Finding your voice…
It’s a phrase you have heard many times, but what does it mean?
There is the literal meaning, of course, like what happens when you ‘lose’ your voice after screaming your voice hoarse at a party or concert or cheering for your favorite team.
In the context of this post, however, finding your voice means finding a way through which you can effectively express your ideas and connect with others. The voice is our own unique way of expressing the ideas and thoughts we feel strongly about. It is what people know you for. How they perceive you. It is part of your identity.
Finding your voice is an extremely worthwhile venture as without it, it is difficult to get noticed.
Not that you are thirsty for attention much, but without a unique voice, it is extremely hard to make inroads in this modern society we live in.
And everyone wants to make headway.
I have yet to come across a person that does not want to succeed in whatever sphere of life they are in – whether you are a writer, a movie director, public speaker, entrepreneur, church evangelist, or [insert profession here] – you need to establish your own unique voice to succeed.
Each of us was born with a unique voice. Some have yet to discover theirs, while others lose their unique voice at some point along the way.
Fear is a common underlying issue that explains why a lot of us, sadly, never get to discover our voice. We fear voicing our strong opinions. We fear speaking out. We fear being visible – you know, subconsciously sabotaging ourselves from achieving success?
It is also possible to get drowned out by the sea of voices out there.
This is especially true in this age of social media where everyone has a free platform (or two or three) to speak from. In an attempt to blend in and go with the wave, over time you might sacrifice what you know is true to you and end up diluting your identity.
The same can happen when you fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others.
Part of the reason your voice gets muffled is the inability to see yourself for who you really are.
You see, you could get so caught up in the lives of other people that you fail to see your own relevance. You get cast in the shadow of other people’s story that you end up retreating in your shell and short-selling yourself, losing your voice in the process.
But what you seem to forget is that it is okay to be you. It is okay to be comfortable in your own skin rather than living a lie for the sake of conforming.
Finding your Voice
Finding your voice means making the personal commitment to walk in your own personal greatness, no matter the side-shows along the way. It is about discovering the courage to be unapologetically who you are and not being afraid to walk in that.
When you understand that you have a voice that matters, a voice that is uniquely yours to cultivate and to share, you stop allowing yourself to be overridden by the voice of others. You will stop defining yourself on the basis of what other people are saying or doing.
So then, how do you find your voice?
For starters, you would be well served by refusing to pay attention to the self-sabotaging voice within you.
Here are some actionable tips that can help you find and use your voice effectively:
FIRST: In spite of what you have convinced yourself or made yourself believe, understand that you DO have a voice. Acknowledging the existence of your voice is a great first step. Just because you may not be using it does not mean it is not there.
This is actually the hard part – discovering what your authentic voice is.
It begins by being introspective and looking inside yourself in order to determine what your core values are. What do you believe in? What is important to you? How does this influence your actions every single day?
Maybe you are someone who lives the value of integrity by always leading from the front when it comes to the behavior you want to see from others. Or someone who lives the value of service by putting the interests of others before your own.
Find out what truly pushes you and it will just be the catalyst you need to speak up.
SECOND: Once you discover your authentic voice, you need to embrace its uniqueness. Don’t expect your voice (or process or journey) to emulate someone else’s as we are all different and have something unique to share. It’s good to have role models to model yourself after. But also be sure to avoid the need to imitate someone else down to the T. Be true to who you are.
THIRD: Live your new truth. Begin to talk and walk in the person you are. This takes courage, strong commitment and practice. Don’t cow beneath someone else’s voice just because you find their voice (in a literal and figurative sense) bigger or more powerful.
When you begin to articulate your opinion, you will discover just how powerful you can be.
It might be scary at first when you find your voice and begin speaking out. But this is normal. We have an inherent fear of the unknown and this is uncharted territory that might feel as scary as it may be exciting.
Regardless, do not be afraid to draw a line in the sand even at the risk of upsetting people, be it family, friends or random strangers. Some people will disagree with you, you will sever ties with friends, and you might lose social media followers or subscribers.
We aren’t for everybody and you will find that speaking your truth is a liberating and gratifying process.
But it isn’t all about losing.
Finding your voice means you are better placed to look for new opportunities and avenues to forge alliances that are in line with your core values and beliefs.
Whether it’s friends, business associates, social media connections (and influencers), or social causes that speak to you: these are all great opportunities for growth and self-empowerment.
After all, at the end of the day, finding your voice is about self-actualisation. Knowing what matters to you, the change you would want to see in the world, and how you are going to realize it.