One thing that I have never been called was quiet. I come from a loud, always laughing and opinionated family. If I was quiet I would be a visitor! But being loud does not mean that my voice is always heard.
Being the baby on both sides of my family I got used to letting other people do the talking. Outside of my family I had more of a voice but there were still times where I struggled to be vocal. On the other hand, I have to admit there were times where I allowed those around me to speak up for me. Sometimes I saw the fight to do it on my own was too daunting or in some instances too scary.
A couple of years ago, around the time I turned 30, I started to shift and become more vocal. I don’t know what it was but I no longer was ok with hearing someone else’s voice instead of my own.
I will be the first to admit that finding your voice can be a journey. Full disclosure, mine is still ongoing. I’ve had my moments of explosive reaction and selective silence all in the name of progress. It’s been uncomfortable, annoying but eye opening all at the same time.
I have learned some valuable lessons so far and they actually have helped me in more ways than one. Keep reading because I am sharing some of those lessons below.
It’s a daily decision
If you have been in the background for a fair amount of time using your voice will have to be a daily decision. It’s surprising how easy it is to just go with what you know but to move forward means you have to choose to be uncomfortable and open. When I am upset I get super quiet and never speak on my feelings. After a period of time I now take a second and make a decision to speak on how I am feeling and what I’m thinking.
Silence is not weakness
Finding your voice does not mean that there are not times where silence is not warranted. I used to think that I would be seen as weak for not saying anything. The reality of the situation is that there is so much strength in silence. It’s a sign of emotional intelligence and self restraint. When I choose to remain silent it is because I know that what I would say is not going to move me forward. It is either going to make matters worse or its that the situation just does not deserve my attention or energy.
Not everyone will be willing to hear you
Child the push back is real, lol! In all seriousness though, people who are used to playing a certain position in your life will have trouble taking a step back. Or they may have trouble seeing you as their equal. When people speak up for you for so long they tend to see you in the same light as a child. It is a definite possibility that you may start getting some unconscious resistance. The strange looks will come because they won’t be used to you speaking for yourself. Some will adjust, some will walk away, but neither should stop your progress.
You have to have balance and boundaries
Your newly discovered voice can be a powerful thing and can come in different forms. I struggled with this lesson and still do. There have been times in the past where I gave a whole new meaning to popping off! But I have realized that you have to find the balance within your voice. Knowing when and how to escalate and deescalate is necessary. The limitations you put on your voice for your own well being is also important. These limitations are key to setting your boundaries for yourself and for other people. I have saved myself a lot of stress by knowing what I will speak on and knowing what I won’t give my energy to.
Take ownership of you complacency
Acknowledging your role is not having a voice is a hard thing to do. It’s like acknowledging your role in the demise of a relationship or for that matter anything. Taking ownership can be embarrassing because you realize how poorly you have treated yourself. Saying out loud is a reality check for sure! However, faciling the truth and moving on from it is one of the best feelings ever. It also helps you move forward because you can easily identify the times where you are falling back into old habits.
No matter where your journey leads you just remember that your voice is your best asset and it deserves to be heard. So find it, use it, and love it as much as you possibly can.