For most of my life, I have had a struggle with my voice. A few months ago, I wrote about my top four fears, and one of those fears was public speaking. But I didn’t tell you the whole truth. The truth is that I am not scared of speaking in front of people. I mean, I have and I can speak in front of a group of people. After all, I used to take Theatre class in middle school. I have gotten in front of people and acted in musicals, monologues, and even a play. I have no problem speaking in front of people.
But, the problem is, that I have a fear of what people will say once I open my mouth. I have a fear of how people will react when they hear the sound of my voice. For this reason, I struggle everyday with overcoming this fear. I struggle with my voice. This is why I haven’t went live on Instagram Stories, or even started vlogging, even though that is a must for any person who strives to create engagement on social media.
My Struggle With My Voice
The Origin of My Fear
When I was about 7 or 8, I was in school and my teacher asked us to read a paragraph from a book. I have always loved reading, and so I raised my hand to volunteer to read out loud to the other students. But when I started reading, I had to stop. I had to stop because I heard the sound of the other kids. They were snickering and laughing. It sounded like they were making fun of me.
I tried to ignore it, but like the ever constant buzzing of a bee, I couldn’t. The sound of the laughter was there, echoing in the back of my head. I couldn’t erase that sound, much as I tried to forget about it. It’s hard to forget something that brings you sadness or pain. I wish it wasn’t that way, but that’s just the way it is. It is the bad feelings that stick with us longer than the good ones.
That may have been only the first incident, but it has stuck with me ever since. Throughout the rest of my school career, whenever I answered a teacher’s question, or said something, I would hear giggles and snickers. They continued to follow me. Sometimes kids would even mimic me. They would do it in the hallways or in the back of the classroom. They would mimic me and then would laugh uproariously, often looking over at me to see my reaction.
The Struggle with My Voice
I just sat there, feeling ashamed of my voice and ultimately who I was. I even started to hate my own voice. I started to hate speaking out loud. The jeering came so often that I came to expect it as a natural consequence of speaking. This meant that I didn’t speak as much as I wanted to in school. Soon, I came to be known as the quiet one. Those kids who used to snicker and laugh at me effectively silenced me.
I hate to say that those kids had so much power over me. But that is how strong peer pressure is. We all have this drive to fit in, to belong. When we don’t fit in with the crowd, then it can be deadly. Looking back, I am ashamed that I let what those kids say influence my own perception of my voice and ultimately how I would use it. Even today, I hesitate when speaking because in the back of my mind I am scared of what people will say. I am scared of how people will react.
It also didn’t help that some members of my own family gave me looks of sympathy for the sound of my voice. They often said that I sounded too young for my age. It wasn’t a criticism, but a statement of fact. They didn’t intend to hurt me, but the way it was phrased did hurt me in fact. Sometimes I felt as if I had to do more just to be taken seriously. I often felt as if I had to make up for it somehow.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found I’ve often found people taking a closer look at me. Or I’ve found that they have to ask me to repeat myself. At school, my fellow students ultimately did make fun of me less and less. Most of the unflattering imitations took place in elementary and middle school. By high school, I suppose the kids have matured enough so many of them ceased to make fun of me. But it didn’t matter because the damage was already done.
How I Resolve This Today
After a decade long struggle with my voice, it still affects me today. Today you can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve been brave enough to speak on camera. Those few times that I did, it was hard to listen to the sound of my own voice. It was hard because I don’t like to hear my own voice. Whenever I speak, I still subconsciously expect those same snickers and obnoxious imitations from my childhood to erupt in the background, like a slowly simmering volcano.
I think the best way to resolve this is to put a camera in front of me and just talk. I could do daily vlogs and just talk about my day. These vlogs could just be private, just for me. This would probably help me to gain more confidence, as well as show me that I won’t hear the persistent laughter that followed me all through my school days. Maybe once I feel confident enough talking to myself, then just maybe I might be able to talk on video to an audience. Just maybe I might be able to finally overcome my struggle with my voice.