Find your voice. This is something writers hear often. And I thought I knew what it meant. I've always considered myself pretty clear headed about what I believe. But not until this last year did I realize knowing my beliefs and being willing to voice them are two different things. Truth be known, I was hiding some of them. And this, in turn, was watering down my voice.
We hide our beliefs for different reasons, acceptance probably being key. As humans, we need connection. But we need to connect with ourselves first and foremost - with what we believe - then we can connect authentically with others. If there's shame blocking us from saying what we really think, then we remain blocked as writers. For example, I grew up in a loving home yet was taught being gay is wrong. I haven't believed it's wrong for a very long time, and I've supported it politically, but this is the first time I've written about it in a public forum. Why's that?
Well, for starters, people who go around grandstanding what they believe all the time are annoying. But it's more than that.
I was programmed to believe certain ways, and it took awhile to figure out the ideas I believe versus what I'd been taught. And longer still to not be afraid to voice them because I love the people in my life, even if we disagree.
But here's the thing: we shouldn't have to lose people we care about just because we disagree. We all view life through our own looking glass. What's the point of having our own minds if we aren't free to use them? As long as we're respecting our neighbors and showing kindness, that is.
I'd rather connect authentically than pretend to be someone I'm not. And when we give ourselves permission to embrace who we truly are, we can deliver a stronger voice in our work, whether it be non-fiction or fiction.
So be brave. Be you. And I'll continue to do my best at it too.