Don’t Be Afraid of Your Own Voice

By Irene Sanchez

Don’t be afraid of your own voice.

If you are like me, as a woman, you too have been silenced. You too have spoken up knowing there would be consequences, some predictable and others more severe than you could’ve imagined all for using your voice to speak. I too was taught at various points in my life by various people or experiences that women are not supposed to speak or challenge or talk back. I have sometimes given up my voice out of fear, held my own tongue because perhaps it made me feel more palatable to someone or some place for a temporary moment until it is realized that shit doesn’t work at least not for long and not without a cost to our well being.

Don’t feel ashamed about the times you were scared to speak (or write). Learn from those moments and make the decision to keep using your voice, your power. No apologies.

I am reminded of these uncomfortable moments where I injured myself to be more pleasing because of what a few people demanded or even societal expectations, but remember no, this is not what the universe asks of me or you. Now I continue to use my voice, to speak, to write, with or without permission.

I had brunch with a friend today who reminded me that I am brave, strong, and courageous for doing what I do. She too has been silenced mainly by those close to her those she thought were her dear friends or at one point people she called mentors and looked up to. I relate to her. I could also be her. For a moment I remember her encouraging me as a younger community college student over 15 years ago now and how she was a mentor and now she is my friend, one of my few I have close to me now and how sitting across from her at a table, how she is like me, I am her, and how we are mirror images of the people we surround ourselves with and I’m thankful for her.

Make sure you surround yourself with people who uplift you, challenge you, inspire you, and who encourage you to speak up especially if it is dangerous. We didn’t enter this world to be passive or to apologize for our very existence and especially for standing up for ourselves and for social justice.

She asks how I do it, how do I speak (or write) and I recall that it has come through a painful and continuous process of teaching myself not to be afraid-especially of this wonderful, brilliant, strong, courageous person I have become.

Don’t be afraid of your own voice. I’m still learning how to use mine and I realize it is often the most powerful weapon that we have and that is often the first thing they wish to take away to disempower us. Don’t let them from you or anyone else who speaks truth, because for every word a woman manages to speak (or write), there are at least 1,000 more waiting to be brought to light.

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