I’m currently reading the book When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams who beautifully dives into the process of finding her own voice.
“For many years, I wandered through the desert in search of a narrative that was not mine. I did not feel I belonged here. I was borrowing a landscape until I found my own.”
Many times we wander grasping for narratives which don’t belong to us. Perhaps out of fear or shame. Believing we don’t have a voice worth finding. We do though. We really do.
Finding your voice means you know who you are down at your core. Void of outside influence. Then using this voice to speak up and tell the world you matter even if you feel otherwise. It takes courage and faith to own your voice. Especially to use it in the way you’re meant to.
I’ve gathered my thoughts below and hope to help inspire you in finding your own voice.
1. Be Unafraid of Being Alone
“Terry, each woman must come of age herself — she must find her true center alone. This is such an exciting process and you will find fulfillment and self-growth…If everything is right within you, nothing that happens to you can go wrong.” — When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
The only way you can find your true center is alone. It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. Heck it sounds lonely. But, truthfully, I’ve felt more alone looking to others for fulfillment and answers to life’s problems than I did when looking inwardly.
Be honest with yourself about where you’re at in regards to knowing your voice. It’s ok if the answer isn’t what you want (if it is then great!). The beauty is, by knowing your starting point, you can track your progress.
Take yourself on dates and allow yourself to answer to anything which pulls you. Whether it’s going to a movie, walking into pretty shops or being creative. Pay attention to what makes you feel alive, connected and inspired.
Paint a picture of yourself by compiling a list of what catches your attention, moves you or makes you feel authentic. Think of what you were drawn to as a kid. The subtle pulls you feel towards one thing or another reveal parts of who you are.
Once you find your voice, the loneliness will lessen and you’ll feel more alive than ever.
2. Walk Your Own Path
“Far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes.” — Terry Tempest Williams
As children, we don’t know how to be anything but ourselves. Bold, unapologetic and unashamed coming into the world and somewhere along the way we are beat down. Most of us anyway. What happens?
We start caring about fitting in, being loved, pleasing those around us, etc. We define who we are by external factors. Placing more weight on what’s happening outside of us rather than inside of us. Conditioned by fear. We teach ourselves we’re unworthy by betraying our experience of life in favor of pleasing others.
We don’t have to stay this way. We can reconnect with ourselves and start using our voice the way it’s meant to be used. Free from fear, guilt and a desire to please others at the expense of your happiness.
Start observing ways you betray your voice. Do you have a problem saying no? Do you push aside feelings of discomfort when you agree to something you know will distract you from your goal? Are you suppressing desires you have because of fear and insecurity?
Stop basing decisions on conformity and start basing them on YOU. Your goals, desires and dreams. Walk your own path.
3. Get To Know Your Voice Without Judgment
“When a woman cries, she is the closest to her most authentic self” — Terry Tempest Williams
Stop. Allow yourself to be still. Sit in silence for even ten minutes and observe what happens. Whether it’s lying on your bed closing your eyes and waiting. Or meditating/ praying.
Is your heart and mind screaming? Does some sort of tension come to the surface? Allow yourself to surrender to your emotions and take note without judgment. As William S. Burroughs beautifully said, “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for an answer.”
It’s in the silences we can learn who we truly are and how to help ourselves. Where we find our voice. Every morning, I do 10 minute meditations using an app called Headspace. I feel so connected and centered afterward. This has become a practice I treasure and a real help in voice finding journey.
The emotions we feel are our experience. By distracting ourselves or diverting from feeling them we deny ourselves true experience. We deny knowing ourselves and what our voice is like. Your voice is meant to be expressed completely different than anyone else. Which is why it’s hard to recognize it.
In the book Learning to Love Yourself by Gay Hendricks, Ph.D he talks about how resisting our life experiences causes us to lose a direct relationship with life. “It seemed like my whole life was one big resistance: against my feelings, against love, against my own energy and potential.” He then states, when we resist, we see life through “a fog of our beliefs, opinions, and conditioned responses.”
Be willing to peel away those layers we create.
4. Be Honest With Yourself
Honesty is tough. Which is why most of us distract ourselves with constant noise (watching tv, talking, being busy, etc). We don’t want to face the truth for various reasons. But if you want to find your voice and place in the world this work has to be done.
“When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us. We’ve been raised to question what we know, to discount and discredit the authority of our gut.” — Terry Tempest Williams
Connect with your gut again. Your intuition. In each situation you encounter observe the emotion you’re feeling. Then take note: Are you trying to suppress it? Or are you willing to experience it? Each emotion is a confirmation of where you’re at in life and who you are.
If we don’t like something about ourselves we can change it. Distracting yourself won’t ever remove any issues underneath the surface. The sooner you can be honest, the sooner you can be on your way to authentic freedom.
5. Act Upon Your Creative Calling
Creativity is the closest we get to our authenticity. Our connection to something greater than us. Ethereal. That’s where your voice can be found as well.
Do what you love with no strings attached. Experiment and do something out of love and respect for your unique, divine voice. Create in order to heal and express yourself and hopefully you’ll inspire others along the way.
These are some great tools to use in the beginning stages of finding your voice. Connect with yourself, become familiar with your authenticity void of judgment or comparison and experiment with things that pull you. Envision yourself creating your own narrative. I’ll be posting other supplemental articles to help in your voice finding journey as well and hope you found this information as valuable as I did.