There is a voice in side of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
- Shel Silverstein
I have spent much of my life using the voice that I thought others wanted to hear. I spoke that which I thought I should speak. I worked hard to be what others wanted, so that I would be accepted and valued. I was afraid that if my voice didn’t align with theirs, I would be discounted and left alone.
I bought into values that weren’t my own because it made for smooth sailing. I put great import on others’ opinions and lost track of my own. I made choices based on how they would be perceived by others. I made myself into others’ images of me, forging my own personal jail cell.
All the while, that small voice was getting louder. It’s no wonder I thought of myself as an Ani DiFranco – there were a lot of F-bombs going off on the inside, trying to get me to pay attention. Instead, I did a lot of pretending, and the world felt like a dissonant place. But it wasn’t the world that was in dissonance – it was me.
Our culture offers plenty of messages about women’s voices - about when, where and at what volume they should be heard. I’m sure that has been a factor in my own experience. But more significantly, choosing to swallow my voice gave me the opportunity to avoid vulnerability.
And that’s the key. I can push against cultural messages and take a stand for the greater good. I can speak up and fight for the needs of others. It’s much harder to risk my secret and quiet self to the world, to choose a path because a small voice in my is saying, “Go. Go now.”
In avoiding vulnerability, I avoid the risk of being rejected by others. A prison cell is a pretty safe place. But here’s the thing:
It continues to be a growing edge for me, putting my voice – my real voice - out there. It means embracing my vulnerability, trusting that I will be invited, welcomed and held by others.
Oftentimes, we create enough noise and distraction to drown out that voice.
So, let the waters settle, let the noise fall away. Listen.
What calls to you from inside? What is waiting to be spoken into the air?
Let it be heard.