What does "find your voice" mean, and most importantly, how does one really do that? How do you put your beliefs and values into words and then take one step further and have the courage to express them publicly?
If you've ever found the concept of "finding your voice" difficult, I understand. For a long time I did not share many of my experiences or my truth on the internet. The main thing that kept me behind was the fear.
I was afraid to share my views on the ability (and the need for more participation), race and feminism, because the last thing I wanted to point out was another "angry black woman." As a relieving perfectionist, I found the idea even more difficult because I really wanted people to like me.
Over time, I was growing dissatisfaction because I found myself telling all things thought I have to say less and less of what I do wanted say.
Although I wanted people to like me, I realized that people would only want the real if I showed them who I really am.
Where to start from?
Where do you start with "Finding Your Voice"? I suggest you ask a few questions.
- What am I passionate about?
- What are the things I'm afraid to say?
- I'm worried about what people think?
- Are I afraid I will not communicate well with my feelings?
- I'm worried I do not have enough experience?
- Do I deal with rogue syndrome?
If you answered yes to one of the last four questions, do not worry. I was full of fear, doubt and concern for some time. The idea of using my voice and sharing the publicity of my thoughts seemed unbearable.
However, finding your voice and speaking your truth is so important. People need the message you need to share and no one else can share it enough like you.
"Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have." – Oprah
Here are four tips for starting the "Find Your Voice" process.
1. Be Authentic
They are undifferentiated who you are. There is nothing less satisfying than pretending to be someone you are not. Your quirks, your personality, your opinion, your experiences – these are the things that make you who you are.
Do not be afraid to show people your real and vulnerable sides. In the world of social media, where everything looks perfect and polished, your self is a breath of fresh air.
2. Be clear about your message, your values, and why you are standing
Take the time to think critically about exactly what you are saying:
- What are your core values?
- What is your vision of your life?
- What kind of impact do you want to create?
Take the time to discover your values for yourself. Once you give yourself the space to do this, you can begin to consider how you can share this information with other people.
3. Do not be afraid to draw a line on the sand
As scary as it may seem, pulling a line in the sand for the things you do or not to play is incredibly free.
As intersectoral feminism, I take a tough stance on issues of racism, homophobia, transathopaism, misogyny and sexism, among others. Staying neutral is an option that no longer feels comfortable for me.
4. Take action
As soon as I stopped worrying about what everyone else would think or say, I found the release not only "to find my voice" but to start using it. Finding your voice eventually comes down just to do it. The proportion of detachment of a bandage is very appropriate here.
The first time I shared something that really feared me, I pushed it out and hid it from the internet for the next four hours.
Being afraid is okay. Do it in the face of your fear.
Tips for navigating in tough conversations with friends, family and customers
While finding your voice is a very enjoyable process, the truth remains that you need a tone of courage and inevitably there will be people in your life who may not enjoy or agree with what you say or share.
Most people do not enjoy overturning the people we care about. However, it is very likely that this will happen at some point.
Although it will probably never be perfect, there are a few things we can do to make these talks as productive as possible.
Recognize that there will be discomfort
As long as I want to tell you that one day all of this will feel easy, that probably does not happen. In fact, there will probably be some level of discomfort when designing a line in the sand for your values and deciding to share them publicly.
I challenge you to embrace the hassle and take it one step ahead and put it on it. There is beauty on the other side of the discomfort. Finding your voice and the courage to say the hard stuff is one of the benefits.
Resist the urge to make personal attacks
It may make it easy to condemn people and be really disappointed when people do not see things in our way, especially when it comes to issues related to politics, race or sexuality. One of the best things we can do is stay calm.
Resist the desire to personally attack or revert to name calls. I always like to remember that everyone is in a different place on their journey. Many of the views I had in my younger years do not reflect the person I am now.
Give people space to grow and change.
This does not mean that we must continue to support their work or close the eyes. This means that we can keep people accountable by recognizing that we must try to keep our word of respect even when we are sure they are wrong.
It is also very important to listen without trying to win the argument or the discussion. So much can be lost when we do not spend time listening to each other.
Accept that people will disagree
As long as we all wish our friends, our families and our clients were as socially conscious as we are, that will simply not happen. The sooner we can accept that people will disagree with us, the easier it will be for us in the long run.
As painful as it may sound, there are times when we need to reassess our relationships. People change and sometimes our values are no longer aligned with the values of other people in our lives. Sometimes this means that the nature of the relationship also changes.
Do not be afraid to lose the followers or subscribers
Regardless of what you choose to do or not do in life, someone will be unhappy with you. That is OK. Life is not a contest of popularity. Losing fans or subscribers as a result of finding your voice and speaking your truth is expected. But the beauty is that these people will be replaced by people who love you who you are and appreciate your voice. We are not for everyone, and it is ok if someone does not like us.
When I found my voice and I began to share about the body image and my experiences as a black woman in an industry that was devoid of participation, I began to receive tens and dozens of messages from people not only related to feelings and experiences me, that I put words on things they had been fighting for years.
My desire to help other people overrides the fear that comes with the sharing of my experiences. It has become my responsibility and not just a choice. Finding my voice has become not only a way out for myself but also a tool to help others.
According to Audre Lorde, "When I dare to be strong, to use my power in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important if I am afraid."
Our collective voices have such power to create change in the world. The days of silent sitting on the sidelines are over.
Now, more than ever, people need to present, put our privilege on the line and use our voices to spread consciousness.
Let's choose to be on the right side of the story.