My voice has always gotten me into trouble.
Feel free to ask my mother, who has spent 40 years telling me to lower my voice in quiet places like, well, everywhere.
Or ask my former teachers, who had no choice but to give me an S- or N on my report card in “Cooperation and Consideration” because I used my voice, well, all the time.
Or my exes (all of whom are still close friends), who will tell you that I do indeed say everything I feel the exact moment I feel it. Even if the timing is, well, inopportune.
Or anyone who has ever sat next to me in any meeting ever. I get in lots of trouble at meetings.
If you’re one of the aforementioned, feel free to agree with me. And bless your hearts.
My voice has always been too loud, too much, too honest for some people. And that’s okay.
There have certainly been times when all of those things have worked to my benefit. On stage. As a lawyer. As a mom.
But I had never thought about my voice in the way that writers often do. The truth is I had never thought of myself as a writer, just a dilettante.
Writers are professionals. I write extemporaneously when something moves me. Writers have formal training. I was a history major. Writers write stories that other people actually read. I’m pretty sure most of my friends and family don’t even subscribe to my blog.
As much as I had allowed social media to distract me from being fully present, I had also let its algorithms and formulas influence the way I viewed myself. The way I viewed success.
For a brief, albeit confusing, minute I equated numbers with value.
I had to decide what success was – was it making a living or making a connection with someone? Was it the number of subscribers or was it the number of times a stranger reached out and told me something I wrote resonated with them?
So I took a breath. I took a break. And I realized that for me success isn’t about making a living. It’s about making a connection with someone.
It is choosing to be present. Not just physically present. Emotionally present. It means being unafraid to give voice to how I feel at the exact moment I’m feeling it. Even if it’s messy. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because someone else is probably feeling it too. And everything – whether it be joy or sorrow – is always better when you’re not alone.
When all is said and done, the only thing we are left with at the end of our lives are those small moments where we shared a piece of our soul – a piece of our heart – with another human being.
And if that isn’t grace, friends, then I don’t know what is.
Right in the middle of all of this soul-searching, I got an email telling me I had been selected by BlogHer as a Voice of the Year for this article I wrote titled “This Is The Me They Love.”
For the first time in a long time, my voice wasn’t getting me in trouble. Maybe my voice was doing something right after all.
Thank you for those of you that have been on this road with me from the beginning and those of you that have joined along the way.
Thank you for letting me share a little piece of my soul with you and trusting me with a little piece of yours…
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