“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is arguably one of the most inspirational women of our time. Her poems, memoirs and work as a civil rights activist left an indelible mark in the lives and hearts of many. She had a graceful yet fierce approach towards life, which she eloquently expressed through her words.
However, there was a time during her childhood when she was a mute for almost five years because she believed that she was responsible for the death of a man who sexually abused her. Although he was killed by her uncle, she was convinced that it was her voice that killed him, and she made a decision to never speak again because she didn’t want to hurt anyone else with her words.
It was during that period of silence that her love for books and literature and her ability to observe her surroundings rapidly expanded. It influenced her to finally break her silence when she was around 13. Later on in her life, she amplified her voice through numerous artistic outlets such as performing, singing, acting, producing and eventually writing, which she is most well known for.
On reflecting on those mute years, Maya said that it was an addictive behavior because it was so much easier to not say things that reveal to people what you really feel. It’s more convenient to go with the flow rather than disturb the status quo. Many of us can relate to this temptation because we were conditioned by society, culture and educational institutions to conform to conventions.
Without the encouragement to express ourselves and be different, it can feel intimidating to stand out and share our truth. This is especially true if we think we lack the influence, wealth and platform to make significant contributions. Without these traditional forms of power, we feel incapable of seeing ourselves as a significant player in the grand scheme of things.
But the truth is that you don’t have to be a celebrity, politician or a CEO to relay your thoughts, ideas and opinions with the world. You can be influential within the sphere of your own workplace, family and community. Even if it’s on a smaller scale, you could still have a lasting impact on the people around you.
You can tap into your love for baking to make brownies every Sunday for your neighbors. If you have passion for saving animals, you could volunteer at a local animal shelter. Love to sing? Share your recordings on YouTube. If you have strong opinions about a particular global issue, share it on a blog.
There’s no shortage of the ways by which we can express ourselves in today’s world. The Internet has given us an extensive global stage on which we can showcase our best. There are blogs, videos and articles connected to virtually every field that exists. Also, most nations now enjoy freedom of speech, a privilege that was not granted to our ancestors (with the exception of the elite and scholarly class).
In short, the only thing that can sabotage our self-expression in the world is ourselves. Being daringly different and bold in a sea of sameness requires courage and a strong belief in our convictions. It’s easier to follow the crowd and let others dictate our path, but I believe that we can overcome this tendency by convincing ourselves of the importance of being heard and then rising up to our potential.
Here are five valid reasons why I believe that the world needs to hear your voice:
- You are a unique expression of the Universe: Each and every one of us is a unique expression of the universal force. There will never be another living organism with your specific configuration of DNA and all the myriad of characteristics, temperaments and talents that stem from it. Once we understand the enormity of this it behooves us to express all the potential that lies within us. Our genetic heritage requires a legacy that we can only actualize through our works and deeds.
- You have a purpose: Nothing in this world exists without a purpose, including us. The probability of you being born is one in 400 trillion, and if you made it, you can bet that there’s a pretty good reason for your being here. On a fundamental level, we’ve all come to love and serve through our life purpose, which is the voice of the soul. Our purpose is revealed through our gifts and the interests, which we are naturally drawn towards. As author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “If you don’t have an obvious passion, follow your curiosity.” You can find more guidance on finding your life purpose in my previous blog post.
- Self-expression is a need: Self-expression is not just a frivolous want but a spiritual need that requires our attention. According to researcher and writer Brene Brown, unused creativity is not benign – it metastasizes into grief, rage, shame, sorrow and judgment. Suppressing our voice, which stems from our creative center, is harmful for us, and it is essential that we find healthy outlets for it. If your work doesn’t allow you to express yourself sufficiently, seek activities outside the office that allow you to do so. Use your weekends or time after work to engage in other pursuits that you’re passionate about.
- You can’t let your insecurities and haters run the show: There’s always a possibility that we’ll face opposition from both within us and outside of us. The critical entity inside us (our Inner Critic) can make us feel vulnerable and believe that we aren’t good enough, if we leave it unchecked. In addition to this, we could encounter people along the way who belittle us and try to undermine our efforts to stand up for what we believe in. When you make the decision to do and say what feels right for you, despite what your critics say, you essentially take control of your life and become the master of your own destiny.
- The world can greatly benefit from your contributions: Imagine if Einstein, J. K Rowling, Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali all decided that what they had to say was not going to have a lasting impact on others. Just think of all the wonderful discoveries, inventions and social changes that we would have missed out on if luminaries like these individuals withdrew from their soul missions. Like all of these individuals, we too have the capacity to benefit humanity if we believe in ourselves. Whether it’s your knack for number crunching, your compassion for the needy, or your enchanting dancing skills, you can use your passion to leave an incredible legacy that people will thank you for long after you’re gone.
The mic and the spotlight await you on the grand stage of life. All you need to do now is to overcome your stage fright so that you can step onto the stage and take your place. Give yourself the permission to shine your light as you allow people to see you for the real, quirky and beautifully flawed person that you are.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Why do you think it’s important for the world to hear your voice? What steps are you going to take to ensure that you do it consistently?
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