How do you find your own voice?
What if you grew up, the child that was always asking questions, who always laughed too loud, who always made too much noise, who was always shushed and told to behave yourself, to go sit down and occupy yourself?
How do you know you even have a voice after all of that?
It isn’t easy.
The first thing that you need to do in any situation is to decide that, yes, this is what you really want to do.
If you cannot make that choice, nothing anyone says to you can or will make a difference. If you cannot make that choice, you have already defeated yourself.
What is the next step to finding your voice?
Decide what format you want to explore.
Do you want to be able to speak up and speak out to family, business associates, friends, strangers?
Are you an artist? Do you want to express yourself more clearly in paint, charcoal, yarn, fabric, flowers, any other medium that appeals to you?
Are you a writer? Do you want to explore any particular genre or style? Poetry? Fiction? Non-fiction?
There are so many choices, so many options, out there in the whole wide world, that sometimes that alone can overwhelm us.
All I can tell you to do is to study. Study whatever medium it is you want to grow into, inside of.
For learning to regain your voice to speak to others, you can start small. Begin writing things out in a journal. Use colored inks. Write HUGE or write tiny. Whatever sparks the ideas inside of you.
You could go online and join some group that interests you. Or explore groups to which you already belong. Challenge yourself to comment on, say, three other posts each day.
Maybe you want or need to start smaller. Challenge yourself to respond to three posts a week.
When you respond, don’t rely on things like, ‘love it!’, or “looks good”. Put a little effort into each response you craft.
After you are more comfortable there, start posting your own original topic one a week. Engage with other people.
Now, take this approach into your everyday world. Since I tend to err on the side of positivity – even when surrounded by total a$$holes – my approach would be more like saying excuse me, or thanking someone for holding a door, or even shaking my head when someone says something that I do not agree with.
Give yourself time. Take small steps. Engage with people slowly. As you walk into your work, greet people with a smile until you can be the first to offer salutations. Challenge yourself to speak up during a meeting. Challenge yourself to speak to co-workers. Ask open-ended questions and let them talk.
Eventually, you will be able to talk to people. Eventually, you will be able to speak what is on your mind, even if you do so in a carefully curated manner.
Keep talking. Be kind, to yourself and to others.
If you want to find your voice as an artist, study people in your genre. If an oil painter, study the old masters. Work to recreate their work as a tutorial, as practice. Once you feel confident in your techniques, branch out and create your own work.
The same holds true if you are a forger, a glassmaker, a knitter, a sewist, a weaver, a musician …and the list can continue on and on.
As for someone who writes, you can basically do the same things. You read, a lot, and you read some more. You find out how your favorite writers do things, what makes them special to you. You write the way your favorite writers write. You stick to the form of your favorite poet, if you prefer poetry. And the same for a songwriter. You find your favorite songwriters and you study them. You emulate them.
You break down the structure and then you recreate it. Then you reimagine it, your way.
You write. You write every chance you get. You write the way someone else writes. Then you rewrite the piece the way you want to write the piece.
Write letters to people, to family, to friends, to editors. You don’t have to send them.
If you want to be published, study the publications that you would like to appear in. Follow the guidelines and send in your work.
Keep doing that.
Keep repeating the process until you achieve the results you want.
Then keep doing it.
Do it all again.
Push yourself, a tiny bit at a time, out of your own comfort zone.
Keep pushing. Eventually, everything will be a muscle memory and your own natural voice will appear, as if by magic.
The key to magic, after all, is hard work and persistence.