Your voice is a gift.
You might mistake voice for the sound that comes from your mouth when you communicate, but voice is much more than that.
Voice is related to how you express yourself and what you truly stand for. Sometimes we use our voice to our best advantage to live happy and fulfilling lives. But mostly we learn to stifle our true voice – ignoring it to fit in and get on with the busy-ness of life. When we ignore our voice or do not even realise we have one, we can compromise ourselves and our deepest desires. But what do I mean by “true voice” and why is it important to find it?
Before I answer these questions, I want to share something with you.
I know that my life’s work is to help people find their true voice. I can’t hide it. Those who know me, keep telling me they see it shine out of me whenever I speak about what I do. Throughout my career, my work has always focused on empowering people to speak their truth. Why? Because at around the age of six or seven, I became acutely aware that I was living in a new country, speaking a foreign language and living in an unknown culture. About two years before, we had fled Iran during the infamous Iran-Iraq war. I grew up wedged between cultures, languages and expectations.
With so many stereotypes and influences around me, as we tried to make sense of our new life, my voice was stifled by a cacophony of voices that “knew better” – parents, teachers, media, friends, authorities – all telling me what to do and how to live my life. It has taken me years of research, analysis, self-development and questions to find my true voice. I am here to share what I have learned with those who are ready to live and speak their truth. To let people know that they are not alone in feeling that something does not feel quite right, even if they are doing all the “right” things – the things you are supposed to do to get happy.
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” – Oscar Wilde
The journey to finding my own voice has not been easy. I, like most of you, have been raised in an environment that embraces conformity and comfort. These are not always bad things. To survive, we need to conform at some level. And to make life bearable when all seems chaotic, we seek comfort in what seems to work for others. Yet it seemed that what others wanted from me and of me, especially as a girl, mattered more than what I wanted. The stereotypes that bound me are so ingrained in society. My ideas of how I wanted to live my life and what would make me happy were not as important as what others thought. Whether it was to “act like a lady”, “have babies”, “work in an acceptable field” or “not stray too far from home”, I knew that my own true voice was being drowned out. And like a good girl, I tried my hardest to fit into the mould that was prepared for me. Consequently, I felt utterly lost, alone and disconnected with who I am. I felt cocooned and trapped in a life script and stereotypes that limited me.
I made up my mind: If there was one other person out there who felt the same, I wanted to help them. I focus on girls and women, because we are at the highest risk of losing touch with ourselves.
My aim is to empower girls and women with confidence, knowledge and skills to live their life, their career, their way. To find their true voice and be heard. To challenge stereotypes and live fulfilling lives and develop successful careers. I now work with the many individuals and organisations, on finding their true voice – whether that be an organisational voice, professional voice or personal voice.
So what is “true voice”?
Your “true voice” is your particular view or attitude: Your knowledge, experience, expertise, thoughts, wisdom. Your truth. Your “true voice” is based on your personal preferences. It is what you think and feel not what you think you should think and feel. Your “true voice” aligns with your real values and desires. It is the voice that keeps whispering what is right for you and ignores expectations, judgements of others and stereotypes that limit you. It is the enthusiastic, energetic and passionate voice that knows what makes you feel happy to be alive. The voice that knows who you really are. Your “true voice” is the authentic you that you know lies dormant in you and that you sometimes ignore to fit in.
It is important for all of us to find our true voice because it guides us in everything that we do.
When we are battling to fit in and do what we think we should be doing, we compromise our health and well-being. This can manifest in mid-life or quarter-life crises, as well as stress, heart attacks and depression. The World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2030, depression will be the world’s biggest health issue.
Our “true voice” puts us on the path to what is right for us. When we find our “true voice” and listen to it, we no longer feel that we are faking it or suffer from imposter syndrome. Our lives are authentic. We become authentic leaders at our workplaces, in our communities and within our families. We gain true confidence and start to live a life that is more aligned with who we really are.
“When you call out in your “true voice”, what is right for you will come your way and what is not right, will fall away” – Sepi Roshan
At the beginning, it can be scary speaking in your “true voice”. As you gain more confidence in expressing yourself as you truly are, you will find that the people who love and respect you, will support you as you nurture yourself. Those who are simply about having a good time or getting what they can from you, naturally fall away. Speaking in your “true voice” helps you focus on those who truly value you. Your relationships will become more fulfilling and your work more meaningful.
The greatest gift I found from listening to and speaking in my “true voice” is that I am surrounded by the people and circumstances that I have been seeking all my life. If you look around you and your life is less than what you desire for yourself, it is likely that you are not speaking in your true voice.
If you are not speaking in your true voice, whose voice are you speaking with?