“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” — Steve Jobs
Ever since I can remember I’ve been pretty loud. My voice is loud, my attitude, my opinions. I was never one of those quiet and shy kids, in fact I was quite social and always asking questions. And there have been times when I was put down for it, when I was made fun of for being loud, for stating an opinion (even when it was a valid one). As a result, I’ve made myself small at times to make room for other people’s discomfort. I have stifled my ideas and allowed others to fill the silence with nonsense just because they were obnoxious or rude and did their best to shut me down.
But making myself small so others would feel big was never a good solution as it turned out to be a lose-lose for both sides. I would lose interest and become disconnected and the people around me would lose out on my input, my contribution to making their lives and this world a better place. So I decided that instead of letting other people fill the silence, I would just let my voice be heard and in the process of doing that always make sure my voice would always be a contribution, not just another way of feeling the silence. Here’s what happened in the process:
- My voice was not always welcomed. Sometimes my contributions were loved and appreciated and other times the haters, the ones who always need to put someone down to make themselves feel big, still reared their ugly heads. And when they did, I just let them be, continuing on my path and not letting their noise drown out my voice.
- It inspired other people to do the same. My world is filled with people who are just as loud as I am (or significantly louder), but also with quiet and loving people with a shy voice, yet who have a lot to share with the world. I discovered that by letting my voice be heard, yet not overpowering the room, the quiet ones felt more comfortable and inspired to let their voice be heard too.
- The haters ended up going away. You know, the ones who never have a nice thing to say, who are always looking for something to criticize or someone to put down. When realizing that their words don’t affect me anymore, they went away. The haters and the bullies thrive on the damage they do to the other person so when there’s no damage to be done, they have no purpose.
- I ended up having even more people close to me. People that I wasn’t particularly close to before were actively seeking my company. They loved the “no bullshit, yet caring” voice and attitude I had. They could always trust me to call them on their stuff, but they also knew I always did it in a loving way rather than to just make them feel bad about themselves.
So let your voice be heard, don’t just fill the silence, but embrace it with all your being and make your voice a lovely interruption of the silence. Speak your truth with pride, vulnerability and love.
Originally published at justlav.com on May 22, 2017.