Finding my voice
Updated: Feb 20
Written by Nabeeha Rahman (UNSW), while on placement at Inlight Psychology, Bondi Junction. Nabeeha was inspired to write a post about her own personal journey, in hope that it can help others feel that they are not alone and that change is possible.
Finding my voice is something I have struggled with my whole life and I’m still not sure I’ve found it.
Perhaps fittingly, my favourite movie growing up was The Little Mermaid. I had four copies of the DVD and watched it more times than I could count. Despite losing her voice, Ariel never gave up hope, although I wish finding my voice would be as easy as breaking a spell.
When I was young, I was shy. Most people would say it was endearing that I was quiet, polite, and never spoke out of turn. I learned it was easy to make people happy when you didn’t say anything at all. For the most part it was harmless. It meant letting people mispronounce my name and wearing the glasses my parents picked out. Even though I hated them.
As I got older, being shy was no longer harmless. Now it meant not asking for help when I needed it, losing opportunities and being taken for granted.
At 16 years old, I delivered a speech at my sister’s wedding. I spent weeks writing the speech and perfecting it. I practised whenever I could. And on the day, I asked to go last, of course.
Picture a room full of 600 people. Friends and family who have known you your whole life. A booming microphone. I sat beside my sister on the stage. My shaking hands were evident in the fluttering of my paper. The glaring spotlight made it impossible to spot any particular face in the crowd. It was the single most terrifying moment of my life up until that point.
Despite all that, I delivered my speech because I couldn’t let down my sister. As I spoke, my voice as shaky as my hands, people sat in silence and listened to my words. I had not known I was capable of commanding the attention of a room full of people with just my words.
This is perhaps the moment when Ursula’s shell breaks, and Ariel’s voice returns to her. Eric is shocked in realisation that Ariel has a voice. On that stage, I was shocked to realise I had a voice too.
But the film didn’t end there and neither did my journey.
From there it was taking small steps and pushing my limits just a little further each time to find what I was looking for. Most importantly, it was not being afraid of what might happen.
I don’t think I’ve mastered the not-being-afraid part yet as there is always some anxiety with speaking my mind.
“Will I say the wrong thing?”
“Will I embarrass myself?”
“Will I make them angry?”
However, I’m learning that the focus should not always be on how others will react, but how I myself will feel.
If like me, you’re still searching for your voice, don’t give up. Your opinions are valuable and worth sharing. Have faith in who you are and what’s important to you, and don’t let what anyone else may or may not think stopping you from speaking up. Simply speaking your mind does not mean anything negative will come of it, like me, you might be surprised to find that others are open to listening to what you have to say.
Everyone’s journey will be different but be open to stepping outside your comfort zone, even small steps, whether on land or under the sea, to help you find your voice.
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