By April L Diaz
“You’re too loud.”
“You’re not smart enough.”
“You need some soft skills.”
“You’re too much.”
“You’re not enough of . . . .”
“You don’t have much to contribute.”
Since I was a little girl, I’ve struggled to own my voice. I was told that girls are supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice”. If this is a recipe for the ideal girl, you’re to bake those three ingredients (in equal proportions?) for 18 years and you get the perfect woman. Well, I’m a couple dashes of sugar, overly spiced, and nice was a missing ingredient when I got made. Even as a little girl I knew that didn’t follow the recipe card. Since I was outside the recipe box, it has been really hard to learn how to use my voice well. Shoot, I don’t even know how to properly use a baking metaphor! That’s how much I didn’t (and still don’t) fit within the expectations for what a woman should be by many cultural and Christian standards.
I don’t think I’m the only one. Every woman I’ve talked with has heard some really conflicting, confusing, and messy messages about who we are that makes owning our voices really complicated. It’s often way to easier to believe those inherited messages, rather than know the truth of ourselves. Sliding into other’s expectations about what our voice is, how we should use it, and what it should sound like is the path of least resistance. It’s the easiest thing to do, until it becomes unbearable to not own the unique voice you’ve been given.
Owning your voice isn’t the same as your sister’s voice. No one else is supposed to sound exactly like you, say things the same way you do, or use their voice for the same purposes you do. If you’re tired of not owning your voice or you’re committed to own it before you lose it, these three ways have served me well as I’ve come to own my voice.
Name the harmful words that have been said about your voice.
Moving beyond other’s words and expectations requires that we identify what doesn’t serve us well in owning our own voice. Our parents, friends, the church, authority figures, and general culture messages have told us who we are supposed to be. Sometimes that’s helpful and other times it’s harmful. Owning your voice means that you don’t rent out your authority to anyone except for God’s voice in your life.
Discover your voice by trying on other’s voices.
In my 20s I decided that I was going to copy other’s voices until I found what mine sounded like. I literally would practice words, phrases, voice fluctuations, and speaking rhythms like the men and women I wanted to sound like. I became aware of what felt natural to me as I tried on their voices. Just like babies mimic the sounds of their caregivers, we need to do the same as we mature so we can find the best expression of our own voice. As you learn your first language, learn from others you respect and admire along the way.
Nurture the Warrior within.
Even after you release harmful words and discover the best expression of your voice, you need to care for your voice. Just as Queen Beyoncé protects her singing voice with proper rest, fuel, and training, we need to do the same. Your voice is one of the greatest gifts you’ve been given to offer the world. Each of us Warriors gets the privilege of determining how you best nurture your inner voice. Because we are not cookie cutters and no woman has been created the same, how you nurture your voice will be specific to what you need.
Ezer Warrior, it is some of your holiest work as a woman made in the image of God to discover, develop, and own your voice. We need you to own your voice more than you could possibly know. We are better when you do.
Join us on March 1st as we explore how to own our own voices and uplift the voices of others
It’s time to reclaim the voice you’ve been given from the beginning! It’s not cookie cutter, prescribed, or determined by anyone. There’s not one way to be the warrior woman you’ve been created to be. As you own what’s true from the beginning, you will own the voice you have in this world. Be inspired by warrior women’s stories, connect with other warriors through group interactions, and move forward with owning your voice.