Finding your voice
What is special about you, or me? What sets us apart from the rest? In a world filled with so much of the same, why should anyone listen to me or you?
How many yoga teachers are there running around? How many bloggers are trying to make their mark in every corner of the internet? How many young millennials are trying to build communities on social media? For someone new to this industry it can seem as if the market is completely saturated, and if you are coming from a place of competition, you would be absolutely right. If you are coming from the mindset that for you to have, someone else must not have, and vice versa, you will constantly feel like you are swimming against the tide.
How about instead of trying to steal market share, you increase the market size? How about you strive to do good business and you wish the same for your peers in this space? Do you really need to take from someone else to succeed, or can you draw more people in? There will always be someone who is more experienced than you, more well-known than you, more whatever than you but at the end of the day you have something in which you can never be outdone. You are you, which is something nobody else can be. At the end of the day, what draws people to you, rather than someone else, is YOU. Those little flourishes which are unique to you is what attracts people. Don’t worry about being too weird or out-there. The more you can be your complete self, the more you will attract people who are into it i.e. your people. Whatever business you are in, whatever you are trying to achieve in your life, finding your authentic voice is the key to reaching your goal whilst enjoying the most incredible journey.
Perhaps the most difficult thing, even harder than putting these things into practice, is figuring out what it is you have to offer. That light within you that is desperate to burst forth. That is the you-ness that will help you to connect with people on a deeper level and that is what you must make it a priority to find. To do that, you have to really get to know yourself. You have to be curious. You have to ask questions. Grab a pen, or a laptop, or record yourself. However you best organise your thoughts, really start to think about what makes you uniquely you and what you have to share with others. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:
1. What am I passionate about? Don’t hold back. Write down anything you can think of. I am passionate about sustainability, cake, reading, travelling, helping others, yoga as well as many other things. You don’t have to see right now how they connect with anything, just write it down.
2. What is my favourite thing about myself? People often find this the hardest one to answer. I think my favourite thing about myself is the way I can make people feel. I can inspire people, I can make them laugh, I can make them feel comfortable. I guess it probably stems from a deep sense of empathy and the desire to make people feel better but it’s a gift I’ve come to treasure. It wasn’t until YTT that I realised the effect I could have on people with my written words, which is what inspired me to start my blog and incorporate poetry into my teaching.
3. What are my unique life experiences? Everyone has their stuff they’ve had to deal with. I have led a relatively charmed life, but I’ve dealt with bullying and I’ve dealt with disordered eating and food addiction. Equally I’ve had wonderful life experiences which also shape what I offer to the world; you don’t just need to focus on the dark, but don’t shy away from any part of you, because that’s what makes you ‘you’.
4. What would I share if I wasn’t afraid of what others would say? Fear of what other will think or say, fear of looking stupid and fear of being laughed at for our failure is such a life limiter. So may of us feel we must maintain this façade we wear in public, but this masks who we really are. I made an absolute decision when I signed up to teacher training and started sharing my life on social media to not let fear allow me to hold anything back. I shared things even when it felt uncomfortable, or when I felt nervous or stupid. I share my vulnerabilities, my passions, my words, even my icky feelings, and all of it makes me more human. People don’t want perfection; they want someone they can relate to.
5. What is my creative outlet? How do I best express myself? This will vary hugely amongst people and you can have more than one answer. Maybe you make art through movement, through spoken words, through writing, through painting or drawing, through song. That place where you can’t hide your true self and sometimes the only way you feel safe sharing your heart with the world. I like to write. Poems, blogs, letters, streams of consciousness. I just find it easier to articulate myself through written words.
6. What inspires me most? Who inspires me most? Do not skip this one because it is inspiration that will call you to action and sustain it when the going feels slow. I am inspired by self-love and self-assuredness. I am inspired by those who have no fear or continue in the face of their fear. I am inspired by those who do the things I am too scared to do and say the things I’m too scared to say. I am inspired by those who question everything and are deeply passionate. I am inspired by people who are unafraid to be themselves and go against the grain. They are the ones who inspire me to do the things I do. Not so I can be the same as them. I am a completely different person and I have my own brand of quiet activism, but they inspire me to try to live my life as an example.
7. What makes me very, very happy? This is the ultimate goal right? Why we do the things we do, why we’re constantly seeking and striving? We want happiness. You can have it right now and you can share it with the people around you. My dog makes me supremely happy, sunshine, good food, laughter, good company, good books, travelling, achieving something I never thought I could do. All of these things contribute to my happiness.
8. What would I like to give to my family/friends/community? Part of our goal should always be service to others. What is it you want to give to the world? I want to show the people around me that they have a choice and are not stuck where they are. I want the way I have chosen to live my life, however imperfectly, to show others that they can do whatever it is they desire. I want to make people smile and laugh and make them feel amazing about themselves. I want to give back to this beautiful planet I call home.
9. What are my key values? What do I value most highly? This is another very uniquely personal question, but it affects everything you do in your life, so it’s key that you understand it. I value honesty, kindness, fairness, tolerance, equality, compassion and integrity, and they are the driving force behind my every thought and action.
10. How do I find it easiest to connect with others? Is it through heartfelt sharing? Is it through humour? Is it through art? This isn’t just abut expressing yourself, but also about fostering a connection with other people through open communication. I love having deep, honest conversations and I love laughter. These are when I feel the most connected another person. That comes through in my teaching, and also in my everyday interactions with the world.
This list is not exhaustive. The more curious you can be about yourself the better. The more you understand yourself deeply, the more you understand what it is that truly inspires you and drives you, the stronger your authentic voice will be. When you have no doubt in your mind about who you are and what is important to you, you will be bold, confident and powerful in your pursuits and you will be the one inspiring others.
It does not matter that you feel that the things in your life are insignificant, or that the things which you love feel like they are far removed from each other. You would be amazed by the weird and wonderful ways two seemingly unrelated things can be interwoven to create something uniquely beautiful. That’s what you are. An intricate web of varying realities which are completely different, yet still connected, and that’s what makes you so special. That’s what makes you stand out in a sea of same-ness. That is your uniqueness which shines forth like a beacon. That is what draws people in like a moth to a light. Just you, being unapologetically you. That is the power you have once you find your voice.