Finding your voice can mean a lot of different things to different people. I have always been a shy person, not liking to draw attention to myself or cause contention. When I was suffering from an eating disorder, this became even truer.
I have realized finding one’s voice isn’t something that happens all at once. You have to search for it, and even once you find it, it is easy to lose track of.
What makes finding it so important? First off, speaking out is empowering.
By being true to yourself and speaking out about things you feel strongly about, you empower yourself.
It also allows you to validate what you are feeling. Secondly, and just as importantly, by finding your voice and speaking out you help others to do the same.
For me, finding my voice means coming out as gay, both to myself as well as my family and friends.
I came out to my immediate family about three or four years ago now, and it went very well. Once I had told my family and some friends I figured I was done, I had come out.
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I soon realized it wasn’t this simple. People don’t assume I’m gay, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Nevertheless, it can lead to an awkward moment when someone asks me about my wife and I explain to them I have a husband.
I have realized over the last couple of months that it is very easy to lose my voice.
I have always been one to avoid conflict, and I have realized I tend to avoid disclosing my sexual orientation to people I am not comfortable with. For example, it is difficult when starting a new job and not knowing how people will react. It is in these moments I feel I have lost my voice sometimes.
The first step in finding your voice is realizing you’ve lost it. Realizing I tend to not mention my husband when I am unsure of how others react allows me to be aware when I am doing this and remind myself to be authentically myself.
So what can you do to find your voice? As I mentioned before, the first step is realizing you have lost it. It sounds simple but this really can be very hard to do.
If you realize you’ve been keeping quiet about things that are important to you, you’ve lost your voice to some extent.
Knowing this really is a huge step, and making the conscious decision to not let your voice be suppressed is the next.
Finally, be mindful and recognize if you slip back into silence.
I encourage you to find your voice in whatever way is meaningful to you. Whether it is coming out, listening to music you like rather than what your friends want you to like, or speaking out about injustice rather than keeping silent.
No matter what it is about, I guarantee that by finding your voice, you will also find empowerment and contentment.
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