I was a self-conscious middle schooler when my English teacher asked me to read a short story I’d written at a school event.
I realized halfway through the reading that my audience was comprised of blank faces. No one understood what I had said. The story — something about siblings and ghosts and a tragic car accident — was lost in the glare of the spotlight.
It took me years to get over that incident. I found that, when people talked to me, I no longer had the words, so I stopped talking. I tripped and fell into silence.
But then I went to therapy and worked with a counselor to address my depression. And, perhaps the scariest of all, I told my story. Again, and again, until the memory grew blunt edges.
“With time, I grew to love my voice. There are days of silence and uncertainty and wishing my voice was different — but then I wake up and start again.”
If you’re struggling to ﬁnd and accept your voice, here’s what I suggest:
- Explain your situation
Nothing changed until I found people who were willing to listen.You might have to repeat yourself a few times, but don’t give up. People might surprise you.
I recently invested in a portable speaker with a microphone that attaches to my wheelchair. It helps to know I don’t have to shout.
- Push through the discomfort
Will you be anxious? Without a doubt!Will people understand you? Maybe! Will it be awkward and uncomfortable? Probably!
“Will you survive anyway? Yes.”