Much of my life has involved a tug-of-war between using and not using my voice. I am naturally shy, self-conscious, even plagued with social anxiety. As a student one part of me wanted to find a safe spot to sit in a classroom, preferably near a wall, in the hopes that no one would notice me. Even as a graduate student I feel this same urge to blend into the woodwork. But as strong as the urge is to hide, the drive to speak--to share my thoughts, to tell my story, to sing my song--is usually stronger.
The truth is, this battle still rages within me. Often I fear I have spoken or sung too much, too loudly, or with too much intensity. Of late, this is a battle I am winning more often than losing. I am learning to dismiss that voice that says "Don't tell your students your stories." I see that my stories have become the building blocks of the community of my classroom. And while I am occasionally aware of the rolled eyes or the apparent disinterest, much more often I sense that by telling my story, I am becoming, to my students, a real human being. I am creating that safe place where students can tell their stories, where we can work together on learning. (Oh, and, I know how to keep one eye on the clock. I am careful not to become the teacher who forgets to do the lesson, because she's too busy telling her story.)
I am learning to win the battle with my singing voice, as well. For nearly ten years I have allowed criticism (much of it imagined, much of it generated by my own insecurities) to keep me from singing with the kind of freedom and sense of abandon I once felt. I am done with that. In fact, yesterday I just let it go during our church service. It was the right song, in the right key, and I gave it all I had. I sang for all I was worth. And I did not do it with fear in my heart or mind. I did it with unapologetic joy!
I titled this entry "Finding my Voice," but the truth is, I found it a long time ago. Now I'm learning to embrace my voice!