You Will Need Your Voice
It was a cold morning but I rose up early to prepare my speech for the biggest debate of my life. For some reasons, I had decided to join the Literary and Debating Society of my hall of residence a semester ago and that day, I was slated to represent my hall of residence. At first, I was excited when I heard the names of the dignitaries to be present at the event but that soon turn into fear: “What if I mess up?” “What if I forget my lines?”
and the list of “what ifs” continued to grow.
The moment came, and I gave my speech. A few missed words here and there, I just knew that it wasn’t a good performance. When I was done, very few people clapped their hands; others just forgot, I believe. But that didn’t get to me as much as the voice of a disgusted stranger in the audience: “Why does he sound like that?” At the end of the day, I promised myself never to put myself out there again. I quit debating that day.
Six months after, I was flattered into contesting for a departmental position. One of the requirements was to give something that looked like a speech—a manifesto. I did and it appeared I had given the speech of the evening. I remember some people saying that it was the speech that won me the position. You would think I would return to debating. No, I didn’t. I left it too late.
Now I look back, wishing I had not quit public speaking in the first place. I wished I had given my voice a chance in spite of all my fears, challenges and the opinion of others.
At least Two!
For some of us, just because we can’t sing like Celine Dion, dance like Michael Jackson, hit the ball like Messi/Ronaldo or play the piano like Asuquo Cobhams, we believe we are without talent(s).
“The truth is we all have at least two. One I am sure of is our voice! (Well, except you are without the gift of speech. Even in that, it is replaced with the gift of exceptional hearing).”
When I say this to people, they immediately want to protest (whether out of social humility or lack of confidence). They say the following: “Samuel, my voice is bad”, “Noooo, I am too shy”, “Samuel, people make jest of my voice”.
I suffered greatly from the latter in my teenage years. I grieved from it so badly that I didn’t want to talk in public for a long time. But all that changed when I began to realise this: “There are people out there for whom you will be their only messenger.”
There are people out there for whom you will be their only messenger.
And that literally means, some people will be lost forever, if you don’t speak up. Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be a public speaker before you can use your voice.
What Your Voice Isn’t
Your voice is not just the sound that comes out of your mouth, it is the evidence that you have either found purpose or on the journey to. It is the understanding that you know something other don’t know. It is the yearning desire to be the light in someone’s darkness just because you too have been in the dark.
It has nothing to do with the structure of your language, or how you construct your tenses, your voice is your message to the world. It is in understanding that should you fail, generations will pay for it. It is in seeing a problem that you can solve (and only you can solve). It is in realising that the “lives of other people” are worth more than your fears and their opinions.
If you cannot relate to others’ pain and connect it with yours, then you are like that guy who prepared a very nice grave for his talent. It would have been better if you at least kept it in the bank; they would have had use for it! Again, if you cannot relate to others’ pain and connect it with yours, you don’t have a purpose; you should just settle for a duplex in a pricey estate. That should be your goal.
But if you do connect with what I am trying to say, you will need your voice. For there are people out there for whom you will be their only messenger.
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Samuel Adeoye (popularly known as “Se7en” or the “Startup Engineer”) is an entrepreneurship enthusiast and the lead podcaster at Podlobe. He is also a big fan of Manchester United.
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