Usually when I get Meetu’s invitation to write an article, I feel strongly tempted for a while as I chew over the theme and then I let it go. But this time, I can’t stop mulling over what it means to “find my voice”. So I’ll try to give these random thoughts some shape.
See, this tentative ‘trying’ is exactly the kind of uncertainty that comes up the Moment you start thinking of finding your voice! My thoughts go in the direction of … I am not sure what I mean, my thoughts are all over the place, my syntax is all screwed up etc etc… Of course I am speaking for only those usually ridden with deep self-doubt, like myself. Those that aren’t, often become objects of awe for me.
So what does it mean to find your voice? And if it’s something hidden or unknown, why is it important to even find it.
I think it’s something like learning who you are (which is a never ending quest of course), knowing what you believe and being able to express those beliefs through your choice of vehicle...sometimes people refer to it as ‘speaking your truth’. For years I’ve felt an innate commitment to be ‘authentic’ although I’m not entirely certain who that authentic me is!
Then, “finding your voice” implies it’s something to be discovered. Although everyone is born with a point of view based on their inherent character and natural traits, this POV starts getting buried under layers upon layers of social and cultural conditioning, expectations of family, pressure to conform, to follow rules. More so, in places that are very tradition bound.
Recently I read that when Angelina Jolie’s daughter was just a tot, only 2-3 years old she began choosing her own outfit for the day, her hair style—-everything. So given this kind of freedom and scope of expression, she undoubtedly will grow up incredibly self-confident.
This is true of a lot of American children. They are raised to be fiercely independent, to think for themselves and so no matter what else their issues, they are never lacking in self-confidence.
In contrast, I remember vividly a day when I was perhaps 18 years old. My older sister, who had always chosen our clothes, shoes, hair cuts and so forth had just gotten married and so now for the first time in my life I went to the New Market in Calcutta to buy fabric for a churidaar kameez.
I pointed out at a roll to the shopkeeper—and the same printed fabric was available in a choice of 4 colours. He asked “which colour?” I remember just standing there, absolutely blank, just looking at the rolls. I didn’t know which colour I liked—-not just in that roll but generally—do I like lemon, violet, pink? I can still feel the sadness that moment generated.
Although attitudes in India have clearly changed a lot over the last few decades there is still a huge pressure to conform. There are few families which motivate, support, praise and encourage children to help develop a sense of self worth.
The devaluing and chastising can be subtle and indirect but if it’s constant it eventually leads to a deep sense of fear, shame, insecurity, low self-esteem and low self-confidence.
So if you can somehow crack open this prison wall and after some years of trial and error do figure out your favourite colour in a manner of speaking, it keeps changing. Most of us have experienced phases of ‘favourite colours’ haven’t we?
We might blame this indecision on our lack of self-confidence which may be so but part or maybe all of this confusion arises if I imagine myself, this ‘me’ who is doing the choosing to be a solid mass instead of an endlessly moving field of energy waves.
You are changing every second as you get exposed to the environment, to new thought, new influences, new circumstances. What you thought was important 10 years, or even yesterday may not matter today.
So right away our first issue is how do you find anything definite, that qualifies as specifically our very own voice, within our constantly changing, indefinite selves.
Maybe one way to identify your self is by seeing what happens when you are NOT being yourself. A simple example maybe say a man or woman who’s gay but has to pretend to be heterosexual or who can’t even admit to themselves that they are gay. They are absolutely certain to live a tortured, miserable life one way or other.
I think this un-lived, unexpressed life is a major source of most of our mental, emotional and concomitant physical ailments.
Depression, anxiety, addictions—most common being food and alcohol—frustration and rage, asthma, allergies are only some of the problems directly related to not being able to express yourself. At a most basic level there is an absence of satisfaction and contentment, no zest for life—-you are just passing time.
This is why I believe one of the primary reasons for the phenomenal growth of social medias like Facebook is that it gives EVERY single person who signs up, an opportunity to express themselves.
Whether it is adding a poem, a photograph, a painting, a song, it is a platform with an audience where you can get genuine recognition for a talent you may have buried long ago.
(The dismal side effect of this addiction to be “liked” is a rampant growth in narcissism. You get acknowledged for doing nothing but arriving at an airport, for having a cup of tea, for doing bugger all basically.)
On twitter you can speak directly with the movie stars—-you can comment and tell off Anoushka Sharma for her bad lip-job without having to be interviewed or quoted by the media.
You can get heard easily—but is this your authentic voice?
Maybe for 5 seconds you get some cheap thrills. Or you feel genuinely pleased for 15 seconds when a ‘like’ acknowledges that someone has noticed you. Or you feel really moved and inspired by the recognition and appreciation people shower on you.
But the problem with these FB and Twitter strokes is you are constantly relying on and getting addicted to someone else to make you feel good.
And I think the point of expressing yourself is there is an innate satisfaction in the process itself.
A few days ago I was doing some painting and copying a famous work of art. After two hours of endlessly trying and abjectly failing to have my own painting look nothing remotely like the famous painting, all I felt was deeply frustrated and angry at my lack of talent and skill. It felt like an utter waste of time. So what’s supposed to be a therapeutic hobby ended up stressing me out even more!
But there was some paint left over and not wanting to waste it, I began scrubbing it on another sheet of paper. And within 10 mins produced something resembling a sunset—on top of a heap of black volcanic rocks :-) as a work of art it’s not worth the paper it’s on (no I am not being modest). But as I finished it, I noticed a sense of peace and that my whole body had relaxed. In those 10 mins I had painted something without judging myself, or trying to copy another, comparing myself, without needing any praise,
And it was in that moment I understood that that momentary stillness within was the reason it was so important for me to find my voice.
-Neo Pachisia Neo Pachisia has been in the healing field for the past 20 years. She has trained in Psychological Astrology, Shamanic work, Energy Therapies. She has taught and held workshops and has clients all around the globe—she lives in Brighton and Goa. Her current favourite Rumi quote is “Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” She can be reached at email@example.com/www.healwithneo.com