I don’t remember when my voice started to fade. The voice that told me who I was when no one was watching. My family moved a lot as a child, and as I yearned for approval and acceptance around me, I think my voice became weaker. If “they” (the people around me) were outgoing, I became more talkative and extroverted. If “they” were introverted, I was quieter and cautious. My cues came from the outside instead of the inside, and I was motivated by what I saw and heard around me…not the voice within that grew fainter as time went on.
I married at the very young age of eighteen before I had a chance to reclaim my inner voice. My voice merged with my husband’s into a duet before I ever had a chance to try a solo. As time went on, my voice blended in harmony with those around me as I carefully made sure no note of my life song stood out from the melody that played around me.
Looking back, I wonder now whether my choice of a career as a teacher was born out of an internal desire, or simply my wish to choose a noble, acceptable career path that would be respected and admired.
At the age of fifty seven, I feel I am just starting to hear the whispers of that voice that faded decades ago. It feels like learning a new language, one that can only be understood in the silence of writing, walking or the stillness of body and mind. I’m not yet strong enough, or practiced enough, to hear it when I’m in the company of others.
My ears tune into the waves of opinions and dreams around me, and I get swept into the tide. Before I know it, I’m back in the sea ffilled with the need for approval and acceptance. It’s hard to swim against the tide, but I’m able to paddle back to the shore where my voice resides more frequently now.
It’s a solo journey full of struggle to find your voice, and learn how to use it once again, but I believe it’s the most important journey of your life.