We live in a noise-addicted world. We may find it challenging to discover our own voice, perhaps due to personal fears, shame and expectations. Sadly, some of us may even think that our voice isn’t worth finding.
After many years of struggling to find my very own narrative, I realized that one place I often overlook is actually within me. Now, I make conscious efforts to get in tune with my intimate oasis in the midst of all that noise. It is a place that I often check in to see whether my heart, mind and soul are align.
Living a life with all of the aforementioned factors in sync takes practice. But when do you find it, you’d be able to live and speak with your authentic voice, because you’d say, do and most importantly, make decisions based on it.
Our voice is a power that we possess - if we know when to use it.
Finding your voice can be defined as knowing who you are at your very core. Living an life that is true to who you are is an ongoing discovery process, and here's a few tips I find useful to kickstart your journey -
1. Have The Want
Here comes the first, yet hardest step - have the want. You need to have the urge to look for what matters to you most. It may be because you were 'forced' to be in such a circumstance. Regardless, you have to be ready and just decide that you want to embark on this journey.
"Yes, I want to find myself. I want to find my voice. I want to find my place in this society.” If you read that sentence out loud, you’d realize that there are a lot “I”s and that’s the truth - it is about you. You have to be comfortable with being alone. It may sound lonely at first, but it doesn’t have to be. But you need to want to change something about your life, especially if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Muster all that energy in you and keep telling yourself you need to do something about it.
2. Get Rid of All Expectations You Have For Yourself
Put yourself in the shoes of a child. Remember when you were young? We used to make mistakes shamelessly because we didn't really know the difference between right and wrong. But now, we think we do. So we start caring about fitting in and placing more weight on others' judgements and expectations of us.
Traditionally, where I grew up in Indonesia, women are considered the lesser being and gender norms & expectations are already set even before we were born. Hence, I thought I grew up in a society where women shouldn’t be as successful as men; we shouldn’t say too much or be too opinionated, because men will be intimidated by us and we’ll never find a husband.
I struggled really hard with this at first, because funny enough, it’s not just what society would tell me, but also my very own family members. I felt like my voice was suppressed a lot due to this fact.
But as I listened to myself more and more, I try to keep repeating to myself “my life = my rules”. I try to stay clear of the negativity that expectations have brought me to and brush it aside. Focus. Focus real hard on yourself. After all, you are finding your truest core.
Pay attention to yourself. Create a small time slot everyday to journal your real thoughts, it’s just between you and your mind. That way, you don’t need to care what other people think. Ironically, at the end of the day, it may be just thoughts in your head - no one else might be caring or judging at all.
When I finally let go of everyone else’s (and my very own) expectations of myself, I felt free. I felt like the weight of the world was finally lifted.
3. Be Entirely Honest with Yourself
They say honesty is the best policy, and this requires effort. That is why we tend to distract ourselves with other external factors. We’d much rather escape the reality, as the truth may be hard for us to face.
I had always thought that speaking my mind was very disrespectful to the elders - even till today, many of my peers think so, especially in the Asian context. Hence, many young adults continue to live life as what is expected of them. They aren’t doing what they want to do, but they’re doing it to please their elders and people around them. They then try to find other distractions, without knowing that they are slowly losing who they truly are or who they want to be - bit by bit.
Try this. Think about your visions, values and priorities that you hold in life. Sit in silence and let your thoughts flow. Be honest with yourself.
If there is something in life that you do not like about yourself - change it. Find solutions. Ask yourself questions. Don’t take the answer “I don’t know” at face value; instead, find answers to why you say that.
It is at those silent times with yourself that you’d be able to hear yourself clearly. Sure, it might start as a tiny voice at the back of your head. But trust me, the more you connect with yourself, it will only get louder and clearer.
4. Trust Yourself
At the end of the day, you only have yourself and your mind to count on for all your decisions & choices. That’s why it’s YOUR life. Do not depend on someone else to keep telling you that you can do it - you need to be able to do that for yourself.
If you find yourself always trying to please other people at the cost of your well-being, try changing this perspective slightly by thinking of it as betraying your own inner voice. Think back on your goals, visions and values - if they do not align with who you are, the more you shouldn’t agree to it.
Trust yourself and love yourself enough to say yes to opportunities and no to setbacks.
5. Find Your Tribe
If you are someone like me that absorbs other people’s energies, you need to surround yourself with like-minded people that can uplift you. I can’t stress this enough.
I am sure you’ve heard the saying of quality beats quantity and I highly agree with the statement. Think of yourself like clay. As time goes, you will be moulded into your very own vase. Our characters as individuals develop and we become our own person. We might not even get along or have the same values with our best childhood friend… and that’s okay.
Join the right community who can get your struggles and understand you. A community is there for you to fall back to when life gets too overwhelming.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” - Kurt Cobain
At the end of the day, you’d want to know the person you want to be. You’d want to be confident about who you are, the decisions you make and most importantly, what you stand for. You'd want to find your real voice that resonates with your inner self.
Finding your authentic voice will liberate you - to express and be the person that you are, and being able to know who you truly are is when your heart and mind are in sync. The journey is ongoing, but once you do find it, you’ll feel liberated and most importantly… free.
Article contributed by #teambusywoman ambassador Celine Djohan.
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