Updated: Sep 21, 2020
As a writer, sometimes I have difficulty finding my voice. Well, scratch that. I have trouble trusting my voice and avoiding people-pleasing. Like many creatives, I struggle with self-doubt.
As an INFJ, I am a master at reading people. But sometimes I have difficulty knowing which emotions are mine, and which belong to another person. It has been a long road, but I am finally finding my voice.
It’s not surprising. I grew up an only child with older, overprotective parents. I was shy, creative, and a loner. Do you know the kid in the group who always got bullied? That was me. What I wanted more than anything was to fit in.
I learned quickly that the best way to fit in was to be like everyone else. But I wasn’t. And I couldn’t bring myself to compromise my beliefs and values. At the time I felt like a major nerd. Now, I am so grateful. Even then I was strong-willed enough to be true to myself. Still, it was a lonely path to walk as a kid and teenager.
You Are Unique
I used to hate being a geek. Now I LOVE it! I learned to embrace that part of myself and my creative skills blossomed. Self-acceptance led me to discover my writing voice. I never dreamed that I would enjoy writing this much. But I finally embraced my unique thoughts and opinions, and I guess I have a lot to say. A lifetime of being silenced will do that to a person.
Life would be pretty boring if we were all identical. I learned the hard way that everyone won’t like me. My art, writing, beliefs, opinions, etc. will not resonate with every person. That’s okay. I can’t keep altering my personality. I wasn’t created to be a chameleon and neither were you.
No relationship is worth that sacrifice. If a friend or partner can’t accept you “as is”, walk away. Never apologize for the uniqueness that is you. You were created to shine. Don’t let anyone dim your light.
How to Find Your Voice
1. Learn to let go: Yoda was right. “The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda, Revenge of the Sith. When we release our need for approval we become more mindful and learn who we are. This is the first step to finding your voice. Stop trying to fit in and please others. When you find your voice, you will find your true audience.
2. Journal: Tim Ferriss recommends writing “morning pages”. Each morning you sit down and write whatever comes to you, unfiltered. You can write about your hopes, fears, and passions. Are you angry about something? Write about it! Do you have a dream or story idea? Write it down! It doesn’t have to be structured or have perfect form. Don’t try to edit at all when you are doing morning pages.
3. Forget about perfection: This one is HUGE. Perfectionism will steal your joy. It will paralyze you. Do you want to write? Play an instrument or sing? Create art? Start. Put something on paper or canvas. Find a place to play music with a group and be okay with messing up. Your enjoyment of life is not dependent upon how well you perform. It is dependent upon your participation. For so long I let the fear of failure keep me from trying new things. Well, guess what? If you try something new, you will fail. But you will also learn. And you may discover something that you love.
4. Don’t compare: Comparison really is the thief of joy. Find your style and medium with which to express yourself. For years I compared myself to other graphic designers. There are designers out there that create amazing logos. I finally realized that my gifting is much stronger in photography than it will ever be in graphic design. I’m glad that I know solid design principles and can use them, but logo creation is not my specialty. That’s okay.
5. Be true to yourself: Listen to your inner voice. Be true to your own beliefs and values. Do you want to encourage others? Write about your faith? Are you passionate about a cause? Maybe you want to help people who have experienced similar life circumstances. Perhaps you want to write a book and become an author. True success comes from following your true self, not current market trends.
Share Your Gifts
We have all been given different gifts. Living fully means enjoying and sharing those gifts. Don’t let fear keep you from living. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The world needs your uniqueness. There is no such thing as an insignificant dream. Once upon a time, there was a TV series that was canceled after three seasons. It opened up a dialogue about racial and cultural equality. It influenced future technology and encouraged generations to become scientists. This show would eventually have nine spin-offs and twelve movies. I’m talking, of course, about Star Trek. All because one man shared his vision for a better future.
The only true limits are the ones we place upon ourselves. Be bold enough to step out. Share your gifts and use your unique voice. The results may surprise you!