Finding your voice, losing it and finding it again
Why this is actually the wrong way to see it.
Since I started writing, I’ve regularly received comments on “my voice”. It appeared that I used a consistent tone and way of writing, which I wasn’t conscious about at first.
I would generally just write. My only true north was to have a certain level of discomfort when I was publishing a piece, which indicated I had been authentic and revealed an intimate piece of myself.
Then, I started looking for a job. More specifically, I wanted to become a product manager, which I had no formal experience in.
So, I started using my writing to prove myself, to create a personal brand that would show others I had the necessary skills and emotional intelligence to make up for the lack of experience.
I hadn’t realized it, but my tone became different.
It even felt different to write.
I felt less uncomfortable. I was more careful about what I was sharing, and what type of vulnerability I showed.
It felt more like I was advocating for ideas while feeling very detached from them.
Some of my loved ones started criticizing this shift. Too positive, too sales-y, too coach-y, you name it.
These criticisms supported the self-doubt I had already been feeling.
What’s going on with my writing?
It doesn’t feel the same.
It doesn’t feel right.
Not sure what to do to go back to how it was before.
I didn’t feel I was growing from writing like I used to. Some articles felt fake.
I was blocked, because I would ask myself whether my friends would like or dislike a given piece. Hello, external validation.
And so, I just stopped writing. I parked tens of drafts and left them unfinished.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I signed my offer, went home for a holiday, and let the pressure down. I realized I had nothing to prove to anyone, and slowly started writing again.
It started feeling like it used to. A bit uncomfortable. But very true. Awesome.
As I reflected on this, I had a big realization.
I like to write about my personal thoughts. I love feeling the discomfort when I hit Publish, and it helps me be vulnerable in an authentic way.
I also like to write about careers and networking. I enjoy sharing the tips I have seen to work, and the mistakes I’ve made.
I also like to be positive, and remind myself of that through writing. There’s nothing like writing a wake-up call to myself when my behavior is misaligned with my values.
So which voice is the right one? The one that gets more praise? The one that feels best?
Well, all of them.
Sometimes, there might be one that’s more prevalent than others. But there was never a lost voice, a right voice. Only finding more voices as I uncover what I want to share with others.
There might be a better way to dispatch these voices, like publishing different content in different places, to avoid the schizophrenic crisis.
That realization was a bit of a “Aha!” moment. The awareness of having these voices, without a need to appoint one that is right against all others, was extremely liberating.
Embracing all my voices as they emerge and develop, and as they serve me in different periods of my life, is probably the best thing I can do to get the most out of my writing.