My Struggle With My Voice

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.

A woman with dark hair has her mouth open wide.
My Struggle With My Voice

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.

A close up of a girl holding a pair of scissors to her mouth in the act of 'cutting'
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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.

What do you think I should do to help me overcome my greatest fear?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 32 year old biracial millennial mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

17 thoughts on “My Struggle With My Voice

  1. I think it’s a great idea to do private recordings of your voice. Just you by yourself with no one else in the room and no background noise. That way you can get used to the sound of just your voice with no laughter or other comments from anyone else (not even a TV or radio.) Then you can replay the videos until you feel comfortable to go live on social media.

  2. Dear Helen, You DO have a wonderful voice, even if it is only the typed words in a blog. My experience with ridicule involved my HUGE buck teeth with such spacing that I could fit my index finger between my top and bottom teeth with my mouth closed. I could not talk or laugh in front of people without covering my mouth, even one time being criticized by an unwise teacher for doing so during a class speech.
    Of course, some oral surgery and braces corrected my “deformity,” but the real healing came from my mom and dad, who taught me that popularity and acceptance by other people was not very important. The only One they felt we should impress was God who appeared on earth in Jesus, the Christ. And all He cares about is the “invisible.”
    “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 That helped a lot but still, I was embarrassed.
    So be bold. Your voice is YOUR voice, and I am confident that now, as an adult, even if you sound like a tiny Shirley Temple, the WORDS that you speak will be heard. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This post hit home in a big way. I stuttered very bad as a child and hated talking in school. In 1956 we moved from Ohio to northern Indiana which meant I started school knowing no one. As the new kid each teacher made me stand up and introduce myself…the laughing really hurt. Besided being laughed at in school, my dad mocked me at home.

    I finally over came it using laughter itself. When I learned to laugh at myself and with my detractors, I eventually realized I wasn’t stuttering any more. I pray for your strength and courage to overcome your fear.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! I agree that laughter can be the best medicine… ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad that you were able to get past your struggle & even laugh about it

  4. Itโ€™s not necessarily my voice, but my overall presentation when I talk. Since Iโ€™ve been recording myself, Iโ€™ve noticed that I donโ€™t always appear to be sincere, like Iโ€™m putting up a front โ€” which, to some extent, I am. If Iโ€™m doing a character, Iโ€™m better able to pull that off, but just chatting with the audience seems like Iโ€™m not being entirely believable. This is something I plan to work on with more videos. I think extra practice always helps.

  5. Hmmm so Iโ€™m looking at this from a different angle. You have a very powerful voice here on this platform through your written words. You are such a kind and intelligent person, so I donโ€™t see why anyone would make fun of you besides the fact that you have some qualities that you have. I think you should just keep pushing through until it doesnโ€™t bother you anymore ๐Ÿ’–

  6. That’s a really brave idea. I don’t know your voice but now I want to. And no I don’t think people would stop sniggering suddenly, but I do believe you will stop caring about it once you come to terms with your own voice and accept it as it is. It’s easier said than done but you seem determined enough for me to bet that you’ll get through this. ๐Ÿ–ค

    1. Thank you!! yes I agree that the first step is self acceptance. We should all try not to be influenced by the perceptions of others but instead be comfortable in our own skin. But easier said than done …. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. This post really hit me hard!! I had this same experience in my school. Just like you I turned into a silent kid. But looking back at me now, I feel so stupid for listening to those comments. I should have been so bold!! Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    I overcame it by speaking in front of mirror and admiting that I’m good enough and so much more than their comments!!

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading. I’m glad that you were able to relate and that I am not the only one who felt this way. But I am sorry about your experiences. I will try talking in front of the mirror — though it’s going to feel awkward ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thank you for saying it out loud. There are many of us with similar experiences, and we are alone until one of us picks the courage to say it out loud. (hugs) for the child you were and for who you are becoming. I wish I was in that school at that time, I would have been your friend and told you that they didnt know better to do better and who knows, maybe given them a dose of their own snickering. That said, I love your thoughts and words that you write here. I feel the thoughtful, sensible, caring(yes, they are judgments but its the way I feel) person you are, within your words. I dont voice for different reasons. I am afraid of judgement especially from people who I know well and actually care about. But all things have their limits. I feel, someday I will turn my back on them, and who knows, I might meet you on stage- Universe Willing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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