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Finding Your Voice And Finding The Courage To Use It

Photo by Joao Silas

A few days ago I sat down with a young woman and shared my story with her about my journey with depression and anxiety. As we spoke, she asked me a question that kind of stuck with me, she wanted to know, how did I find the courage to share my story, and how can I also help others with finding their voice, so that they may be brave enough to share their story, and seek help for their struggles?
Now before I tell you why that question gripped me so hard, let me tell you a little about who I am and the person I used to be. I am an introvert, and most of the time, the conversations I am having generally take place within my head, between me, myself and I.
I am always looking inwardly, my attention to detail is exquisite and my ability to be introspective is just as on point; this helps me to be creative. I find that my ability to process an internal world separate from what lies within reality, helps me to stay sane and to not get caught up in the fruitless things being planted within society. Having "me" time is gratifying, and I love that I am in tune with every emotion that stimulates my body- the good and even the bad.
Being an introvert sounds like a peek into artistic heaven doesn't it? Well, in a way it is, but where there is art, there is also war.
So what was it about this young woman's question that gripped me so much? My introverted personality got me labeled as either the quiet girl or the shy girl. The one who never spoke, and it's not because she wasn't listening, it's just that she was afraid to hear her own voice.
I struggled with accepting my introverted characteristics. As you see, having an introverted perspective can cause one to focus internally. That is not a bad thing, but for me, the bad is what I always seemed to focus on. Do I look good enough? Will I sound smart enough? Will my opinions be critiqued as aggressive and intrusive, rather than passionate? Do I sound sophisticated? Educated? Or will I come off as someone who was better off keeping her mouth shut?
This was the battle I had when it came to finding my voice... and the courage to use it.
The woman I used to be would have never been brave enough to write about her dealings with depression, I would have never been courageous enough to start a whole entire company around sharing your story, owning your struggles and knowing your self worth. And surely, I would have never found the courage to sit down with a complete stranger, and record a podcast on how I overcame depression and anxiety, and prompt others to find their voice and use it to save their lives.
“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.” 
― H.L. Mencken    
 My struggle with finding my voice all came down to what others would think of me. What are people on the outside, thinking of me on the inside? I was self-conscience, self-critical, and I remained silent because I didn't want to cause myself suffering over something that I couldn't control. But that’s the thing, I will never be able to control how others perceive me, and I should not let their judgments or opinions dim my light or silence my story. 
 My rhythms will never look the same as my neighbor, why? Because we are not built the same, our paths differ, our journey's differ, and our walks within life were not carved down the same road. We are individuals for a reason, and our stories reflect who we are and the experiences that surround them. I am not going to sound like everybody else simply because I was not created to sound like everybody else. Self-expression is not a universal language and being vocal should not program you to sound robotic. 
There is healing within our words and staying silent won't cultivate the courage that we need to allow ourselves to be seen and our voices to be heard. Whether you are depressed and anxious, struggling with addiction, battling an eating disorder, looking for a job, trying to provide for your family or just hustling to evolve, you have a story.
And let me tell you this, there will always be hater, skeptics, and speculators. Many will doubt, question, disapprove and disbelieve. Everyone isn't going to support your journey or delight in your story and that's okay. You must remain you biggest fan, you know where you came from and you know where you are going; so clap for yourself, celebrate yourself and praise yourself. Don't let the judgment from others disrupt your journey or stop you from seeking the help that you need and deserve. 
So let me leave you with this. What you have to say matters. You will never get comfortable with hearing your voice unless you speak. Your life is depending on you, your art is depending on you, and your story is depending on you to find the courage to believe that what you have to say can alter the universe. Your voice can save not only your own life, but also someone else's, and having such power should not be in vain.
I encourage you to give your life its best chance by finding your voice, but most importantly, by finding the courage to use it.
WRITTEN BY, 
MINAA B.

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