Much of our lives are spent comparing ourselves to others. Social media, work, and the latest trends all make it difficult to uncover who we really are. Sometimes, we get so distracted by listening to others’ voices, we stop recognizing our own.
“When we use the phrase ‘finding your voice,’ we are often describing the concept of leaning into your authentic self,” writes licensed professional counselor Erica Carulli in The Gander, a publication owned by Courier Newsroom.
“I actually prefer using the term ‘rediscovering’ instead of ‘finding’ because we didn’t lose it; we talk and communicate every day.”
Carulli is right. Your unique voice doesn’t refer to your vocal presence. You might be a very sociable or influential person but still feel that others don’t know the “real you.”
Your “voice” is another way to describe your authentic self. It’s the most genuine version of you — and it’s a version of you that advocates for the well-being of others.
Your friends and family know your voice and appreciate your authentic presence. But you may struggle to recognize this voice in yourself. This can cause anxiety and confusion, leading to feeling less fulfilled and appreciated.
You Sound Great!
So, how do you peel back the layers of cultural norms, trends, and learned behaviors to rediscover your voice?
It’s not easy. It can take years of work to find your voice and feel confident in your expression. Even the brightest ancient Greek philosophers spent their whole lives trying to, as Socrates succinctly put it, “Know thyself.”
In her piece in Courier Newsroom’s The Gander, Carulli, MA, LPC, CCTP, advises asking yourself a few questions:
— What does my unique voice sound like?
— What do I bring to my community and the people in my life?
— What is the essence of “me”?
Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers. It takes a while to begin to respond to these deep questions. But thinking about them is a good way to be mindful of your voice.
A better question might be, “How do you show up in your daily life?”
Show and Tell
Both physically and emotionally, “showing up” is about putting in the extra effort to treat yourself and others with respect and kindness. The challenge to show up forces your authentic self to peek its head out, even if it’s more comfortable staying buried deep down.
So, how did you show up yesterday? Maybe you practiced a hobby you enjoy. Maybe you called a friend you haven’t heard from in a while to find out how they’re doing. Or perhaps you chose to eat a healthy meal instead of the junk food you really wanted.
All of these things take work — showing up is always harder than not bothering — but every time you make the effort, your voice gets stronger, and so does your sense of purpose.
Showing up is like going to the gym for your emotional self. Here are a few tips Carulli shared in Courier Newsroom’s The Gander:
- Your voice matters. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s. Someone always has something valuable to learn from you.
- Tell your story. Your life is unique and you’ve learned so much from it already. This is your story! Tell it to others and share what you’ve learned.
- Lend your voice to others. Be a voice for the voiceless and those who haven’t rediscovered their voice yet. This is what it means to be a leader.
- Trust your gut. Learn to listen to your voice and follow your instincts.
- Be brave. Telling your story and showing your authentic self to others is scary! It won’t always come without ridicule and challenge.
Try, Try Again
The most important thing you can do when rediscovering your voice is to keep trying. The goal isn’t to reveal the objective “you.” You are a work in progress, after all. Your voice changes a little every day. Some days, your voice will be weaker; on others, it’ll be more robust. Sometimes others’ voices will challenge yours — and sometimes they’ll be right.
But even when you fail, keep trying, keep advocating for others, and keep showing up.
Remember, “Rediscovering your voice is a process and includes peeling the layers away to reorient ourselves to the parts of us that have been hidden,” Carulli advised in Courier Newsroom’s The Gander.
“Authenticity, unpacking societal norms embedded into our lives, and deciding what truly aligns with your values, morals, and integrity: this is what it means to rediscover your purposeful voice.”
This story was originally published in The Gander, a publication owned by Courier Newsroom.