As a writer with a background in psychology, I have always loved observing the way humans behave in various settings. I frequently see things that other people miss: the upset child who got left out of a game, the parent who is frustrated because their child is tired and there’s nothing they can do to stop their tantrum or the stranger doing her best – for whatever reason – to blink back her tears. I imagine stepping into their shoes and try to guess their thoughts and feelings and what they think is their place and purpose is in this world.
As an introspective bystander I have found there are two types of people:
- Those who like to speak and want to be heard.
- And those who are happy to listen, keep quiet, and stay comfortably in the background.
And then there is me, who somehow manages to fall in between. I want to be heard but dislike being the center of attention so for many years I preferred not to do public speaking. In front of a very large crowd, I should say, to be more specific.
Indeed for way too long I was happy to keep my thoughts spilled onto paper. This is somewhat expected for a writer as we tend to be private and public speaking is not generally something people tend to get excited about.
I certainly wasn’t excited about it. The mere thought of doing a speech or talk sent a shiver down my spine, until one day I heard a random person say something that changed my viewpoint on this matter forever after that.
This person said to me:
You have a voice so why not use it?
The light-bulb went off straight away. I thought, wow he is right. I do have a voice SO WHY AREN’T I USING IT? I could see the far-reaching implications of this short sentence.
It wasn’t just applicable to me. This idea would encourage children to speak up when they saw something wrong. It would help colleagues make positive suggestions in a workplace setting.
It gave a little nudge, a tiny push to anyone who has ever had something important or even minor to say but felt scared to say it.
Here’s the truth: we all have a voice so why aren’t we using it?
Really why not? If you have a voice, it deserves to be heard.
A few years on, I am more comfortable with speaking in front of small groups. My confidence grew after I started teaching a weekly class to infants and primary school kids. They were of course the perfect starting audience – always listening intently without judgement or criticism.
Even though I still teach this class today, I sometimes feel as if my students have taught me more than I have ever taught them. For they gave me the courage and opportunity to conquer my crazy, stupid fear and the strength to realize there was nothing scary about learning to use my voice in different ways.
Martin Luther King Jr. said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” If you have something to say, please don’t be afraid to say it. Ignore what other people are doing or saying – the important person here is YOU. You have your own distinctive voice so listen to it. Can you hear what it is saying?
So many people get distracted by the noise of the world that they forget to find their own truth. If you have lost yours, it’s up to you to find it and share it with the world. Because if you don’t – if you fail to use your own voice – you risk becoming just a distant echo, a shadow rather than a shining light.
The human voice is the most perfect instrument of all. Arvo Part