My voice. The thing that I have been fighting to find the last four years. Speaking up for myself. Saying a decisive yes or no. Telling someone when I do or do not like something. Asking another person to stop. Telling someone that they have crossed a line and have gone too far. Asking for more. Demanding respect, honestly, graciously, without pretense. Asking to be seen, to be heard.
The twenties for me have been all about finding my voice. It has been the most painful uphill battle I have ever walked through. You see, sometimes on the journey to find your voice you bump heads with people along the way. Sometimes when you speak up, people don’t like what you have to say. People may get offended. They may get upset. They just may not like you.
Speak up anyway. It’s the hardest and yet most encouraging lesson I have learned in my twenties thus far. Speak up anyway. You see, by not speaking you are only doing yourself and the world around you a huge disservice. People will never see you for who you really are until you learn to speak up. Of course, speak up in a way that is still respectful to other people, but don’t fear speaking up simply because they may not like what you have to say.
Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):
People will never see you for who you really are until you learn to speak up.
I was recently reminded of this when a friend (also 24 years old) text me, disgruntled and upset, because her mother told her she was too loud. She goes on to tell me that her mother gets on to her and her oldest sister a lot actually- my friend for her loudness and my friend’s sister for her curly hair. This is probably something more common in black culture, but oftentimes women from older generations will deride or be critical of a young, black woman for wearing her hair in it’s natural, curly state.
I laughed when my friend text me. My first thought was why does her mother’s opinion affect her so much and make her come undone? Funny thing, my mother has criticized me for both things, my hair and my supposed loudness. I remember, like my friend, being frustrated by my mom’s words and opinion of me. After much thought, I decided to respectfully disagree with my mom’s opinion and own my truth.
I have an older brother and never once have I heard him being derided by parents for his loudness. Neither my brother nor I are particularly loud people (neither is my friend). Yes, in the occasional heated moment of passion or humor, we can be loud, but we are not loud people in general. Maybe because of my femininity or my age, I was told to be more quiet. To be meek and mild. To be lady-like. As far as my hair, I guess people my mother’s and my friend’s mother’s age do not like the volume, the texture or the curl?
I say this with all respect to older generations and to people of my own generation with differing opinions, but I DISAGREE. I like my natural, curly hair. I think my friend’s sister’s hair is just lovely in it’s natural state. And yes, sometimes I can be loud. In my 24 years of life, I am sure I have had more than one loud moment like most people. But I am not going to allow someone’s opinion of me to make me feel like I must keep quiet. That a more quiet me equals a better me.
These are just small examples of a bigger idea. The twenties are all about growing, changing, becoming better, finding who you are meant to be. How can you do that if you are worried about coloring inside the lines? How can you do that if you are worried about momma’s opinion and the opinions of those people over there? You can’t. You have to fight to find a voice and you have to fight to keep it.
My personality has always tended to lean toward being a people pleaser. So for me this idea of finding my voice in my twenties is monumental! It’s huge! It means speaking up for myself and others. It means being brave. It means having the courage to not back down and to not quit. It means being bold enough to say, “Hey world! This is me! I am here! I matter!” I hope you will join me on this journey of finding your most true, authentic voice, unapologetically.