At nearly any other point in my life, if you had asked me what my “voice” was like, I would tell you about my experience singing. I would ramble on about my years in choir, my temporary stint in school musicals, and leading worship at my home church. I would express my reluctance for singing in front of people, as well as public speaking. Then maybe, possibly, after I’m done going through all of that, (if I haven’t gotten paranoid about talking too much at once), then I’ll mention my writing voice.
Along with reading, writing, and running, I have been singing my whole life. My mom likes to tell and retell the story of my musical beginnings. When I was three or four years old, I knew exactly how to run into the living room, turn on our massive boombox, put in the CD by iconic 2000’s boy band ‘N Sync, and change it to a specific track. All so I could sing and dance my little heart out to the number one hit of my childhood: “Bye Bye Bye”.
“It might sound crazy, but it ain’t no lie” that ‘N Sync set me up for success.
Years in choir, drama, and worship band slowly grew my appreciation for music and the creation of it. I absolutely adored singing, but as a timid person, I was afraid of my own voice and scared when someone else might hear it. Essentially anything that put me on the spot was a nightmare. I’ve always been afraid to share my voice, no matter what context of “voice” you consider. Even thinking about it gives me butterflies.
In terms of my singing voice, it was a process for me to become comfortable with the sound of my own voice, especially when it was echoing in front of the entire student body. I attended a Catholic high school, which means we held an all-school Mass every month. At the recommendation of a friend, I joined the school worship band. But standing and singing in front of 900 people was a tad much for little, introverted, freshman Helena. The first time I led a song, I was shaking so hard I was sure everyone saw. Maybe they could.
In the years that followed, I forced myself to sing. I joined school choir and the worship band at church. I sang and sang and sang. And it was terrifying. But eventually, I found my voice. I still encountered stage fright, but not the same fear and discomfort that I had felt before. I could sing in front of crowds. I led songs at my church and at school. I was much more used to the sound of my voice. I wasn’t shaking anymore.
Similarly, I have always struggled to confidently share my writing. Though I did have writing-related moments that paralleled my ‘N Sync jam-out sessions, I (thankfully) was not a part of any type of writing group or publication that forced me to share my writing in front of 900 people. I would get occasional waves of inspiration — think up the basis of a novel, keep a journal, write a poem here and there. The works. But rarely would I share it with others.
When I learned that this class would require me to keep a weekly blog, I was excited. I was glad I would be forced to write, and forced to get all these spinning thoughts out of my head. I was interested in digging deeper into the process and semantics behind writing. I couldn’t wait. Though only a few people would read it, I was nervous. The thoughts in my head were going to be on the internet! At extensive, probably oversharing, levels! My writing is way too personal to be shared bi-weekly! For the love of all that is good and true and holy, this is terrifying!
Suddenly I found myself back inside little, introverted, freshman Helena whose voice shook in front of the whole school.
I was lucky letters on the screen can’t shake, because if they could, it would all be incomprehensible.
But, as a pleasant surprise, as the semester progressed and more writing was posted, it got a little less terrifying each time. Forcing myself to stand up there and sing helped me breathe a little deeper and sing a little more confidently. Forcing myself to press the “Publish” button twice a week helped me to type a little clearer and write a little bolder.
And soon enough, the letters stopped shaking.
(At least to the point where they were legible.)
What a liberating feeling it is, finding your voice. Singing, writing, or otherwise. And while the letters may still quiver ever so slightly, pushing that “Publish” button has crept closer to an ‘N Sync jam-out session each time. Maybe one of these days I’ll be bold enough to turn up the volume.
Based on the sheer length of this post, I think it’s a full on dance party.