|[Image text: an old boarded up house with graffiti that reads,
"speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."]
I'm not one much to have personal mantras. Throughout the years, when other people have found inspiration in quotes and shared them everywhere as the words they live by, I've often thought, "oh how nice" and nothing more.
A few months ago I saw this image shared somewhere online (I can't even remember where) and for the first time words just kind of spoke to my soul. "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."
In an effort to know who to attribute this to, I Googled around a bit and came up short. Susan Sarandon had written about it before, but she got it from a bumper sticker. It seems that the source is unknown, but a similar statement is attributed to Maggie Kuhn.
In either case, these words really struck a chord with me. You see, I'm a really nervous person. (If you've read any of the more personal stuff I post here, that's pretty much a given at this point.) I have such a strong physical reaction to my nerves that my voice will shake when I'm in an uncomfortable setting. It's not even tied to the possibility of tears, although when I am about to cry, it shakes too. But right now I'm just talking about a physical response I have to my nerves that purely manifests in my voice.
I know that for many people this phrase means, "Speak up even if you're scared/hurt" and that's an incredibly important message. But I have a very different personal interpretation.
Despite my frequently shaky voice, I'm not actually someone who keeps quiet. I typically will speak up and share my opinions when I feel it is important to do so, even if my voice is shaking. But when the shake does come through and is audible I feel like I have betrayed myself. I feel like my point is being undermined by the way it is delivered. I get really embarrassed and I clear my throat and can typically get it under control moving forward, but I feel like those few shakes really derailed my message.
I know that this comes from interactions with my dad when I was a teen. He was very antagonistic and when I'd get into an argument with him, (like about being able to go over to a friend's house) if I got emotional in the slightest, it was the whole "here we go" *eye roll* act toward me. He would make it seem like I had lost all control so he couldn't talk to me "logically" anymore. I mean, he tried really hard to shame the emotion right out of me, but all it actually did was make me hyper aware of when emotion does enter my voice (as it always will.)
So when I read these words, it was like reading permission to confidently be myself. It was a reminder that everyone doesn't view outward displays of emotion as weakness and even if your listener does, that doesn't mean you should shut up.
Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.
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