Monday, September 22, 2014

Using My Voice - A Work in Progress

Using My Voice - A Work in Progress |

I don't know that I've ever had a voice. I don't mean a physical voice - yes, I can speak. But I mean deeper than that - a voice to speak up for myself. I touched on this very briefly before, but needed time to get my thoughts in order.

It started when I was a child. I'm an only child and have always been quiet and introverted. I was always content to play quietly or read quietly and be left to my own devices. I did my best to not be noticed because I was not comfortable being in the spotlight for any reason nor catching the attention of a mother whose moods were quite unpredictable. Add to that her culture and how I was raised in that children should be seen and not heard and should not be an embarrassment for any reason whatsoever. "What will people think?" was a common refrain. So I further learned to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself.

In school, I often knew the answers, but never raised my hand to contribute because I wanted to stay under the radar. I doubt few of the teachers I had would remember me or anything about me. I tended to give one-word answers if I absolutely could not avoid speaking. One teacher even referred to me as "saturnine" - meaning sullen and overly serious. Obviously, she was an English teacher. 

I've always been "the listener." People will often talk to me and tell me all about their lives, knowing that I will never be confrontational or try and hijack the conversation. That I will always welcome them with a smile. Little do they know that I love being the listener because then I don't have to offer up anything about myself. Someone close to me once said, "You're a hard person to get to know." And it's true. The thought of talking about myself makes me very anxious. I think my husband is probably the only person who truly knows me.

Colleen Hoover, quote

I'm always the "yes" girl. Even when I don't want to be. Because I'd rather go with the flow and be a people-pleaser. Because I'd rather not be a burden or considered selfish or put myself into the equation or raise any kind of ruckus. This often leads to me do things that I don't want to do, just to avoid having to say no. People always tell me, "Oh, you're so great, you never complain." And I don't. My standard answer to everything is, "Sure, that's fine. I'm easy. Whatever you want to do." 

Which brings me to the point [yes, I promise there is one] of this post - I don't have a voice. And I need to work on that. I need to let myself be OK with voicing my opinion, or saying no from time to time. That it's OK to have a different opinion and disagree with someone. Not having a voice for so long leads me to wonder - WHO AM I? I mean, really. Truly. Who am I? What do I want? These are difficult questions for me because then I have to truly stop and think about myself.

And that, my friends, is pretty flippin' scary. But I'm trying. I'm trying to put myself first. I'm trying to make myself heard. My confidence isn't 100% there yet, but I'm trying.  


  1. Wow, I swear we have a lot in common :)

    I was an only child until I was almost 9 yrs old. Like you, I spent a lot of time by myself in my room in my own little world, no one to really talk to or assert myself with.

    My mom, though not the tiger mom type, taught me from day one NEVER to inconvenience someone. If we went to people's houses, she'd tell me beforehand, "Don't you dare ask for anything. Nothing to eat, nothing to drink, etc." I was always to do what I was told, wasn't allowed to ask, "why?", and again, not to inconvenience people.

    Because of this, I had always been a "yes" girl too. I would get so overwhelmed sometimes because I didn't know how to say, "no." What's worse, no matter how overwhelmed I felt, I never wanted to inconvenience anyone (there's mom's voice in my head!), so I'd never ask for help either!

    Unfortunately, this kind of mentality poured over way into my adult life. It wasn't until several years ago, after holding so much in, being so passive aggressive rather than just saying how I felt (i.e. having my own voice), that my marriage almost fell apart. I decided that it was time I had a voice, cause I deserved it just as much as anyone else.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I can totally relate. It is definitely a work in progress. Sometimes I can still feel myself clam up when I have something to say that might be perceived as negative or confrontational, but I stop and ask myself, "What outcome will be worse than stifling your voice? Nothing."

    I hope you garner your voice soon enough :) You deserve to be heard as much as anyone else!

  2. Girl.
    I knew we were online buddies, but I didn't know we were soulmates! You seriously just told my life story right there.
    I came out of my shell when I was about 18, but just found My VOICE not long ago. When you find it, I must warn you, it's possible you might lose some friends. And people will look at you differently. But you have to be ok with that prospect. However, life will become amazing. You'll see everything in a fresh new way.
    You're amazing!
    Only child club official members - Mia and Becca

  3. I just want to remind you that by starting this blog - you have begun to develop your voice. It may not be verbal but it is allowing an outlet for you. It takes time to find your voice and I think it changes over time depending upon your experiences. I grew up around brothers and had to develop my voice. Interestingly enough, although I am a social worker and advocate for clients and others - there are still moments when it isn't easy to speak up for myself.

    I agree with Rebecca in regards to seeing how amazing things are when you do find your voice. Sadly, there also may be some who don't appreciate it - but then you have to ask if they are worth having in your life.

  4. I love this post because I too have struggled with the powerless feeling that feeds my people pleasin' issue(s). Unlike your saturnine personality, I've hidden behind my personality to avoid conflict... following a dream to become a living, breathing doormat for my clients... Like you, I've made a personal commitment to find and USE my voice. It's a struggle because I don't want to be labeled as mean or, even worse, a b!tch. UGH... but a CARING, LOVING. I'll-only-say-no-if-I-ABSOLUTELY-have-to b!tch isn't so bad, right?

    What will people think? *shivers*

    I recall how you and I were friends in middle and high school... probably because we're more alike than we know :) I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU! GOOOO MIA!!!!

  5. As an only child as well, I can relate to this very much. I know it's been a struggle standing up for myself. I can answer questions, but in the case of people taking advantage of me, I just can't seem to say no. I'm like a doormat. I really like this entry and I'm bookmarking it.


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