Honoring your voice
We learn so much from the world around us.
As children, our family and friends give us a sense of what is right or wrong, what is okay, what is cool or not. Reflecting back on my upbringing, I was often in settings where my voice was silenced. Growing up it was clear that voices, in particular POC or female identified voices, held no value. It was clear that we had all internalized this message because it resonated throughout my life.
A popular term I will always remember hearing is “Calladita te vez mas bonita” which translates to “ you look prettier when you are quiet”.
Words and phrases such as dramatic, exaggerating, doing too much, loud, rude, and the list goes on, were used to discourage the use of my voice. All of these terms and messages received were internalized and caused me to silence myself and think twice before I spoke up.
Little did I know that my voice was disrupting what we took in as truth, it made others uncomfortable.
Now, you may be wondering why those messages even impacted the way I used my voice and my actions.
Well, the answer is complex and to simplify I will say, we are human.
There are so many systemic structures that silence us at all times and as humans, we internalize those beliefs. These messages are then passed on through our interactions.
Throughout my life, I silenced myself. There were times where I could have spoken up but did not and reflecting on those times, it was because of my upbringing and my internalized messages. It was not until Graduate School that silencing my voice began to have physical manifestations.
Discomfort manifested in different ways: Aching back, pain in my shoulders, beating heart, headaches, frustration, sleepless nights, etc.
It was my beating heart, the pit in my stomach, the non stop heat emitting from me that made me realize, “you need to say something”. Every time I spoke up, the words and feelings poured out effortlessly. I was no longer carrying the heaviness of silence.
BMike has an amazing shirt that I love which boldly states, “I am my ancestors wildest dreams”. Every time I speak up, I embody that phrase. Colonialism and resistance are a huge part of our people’s history. Historically, we were oppressed because of white supremacy. I speak up because my ancestors could have been persecuted for doing so. They speak through me. Resistance against these colonial forces and ideals is also a part of my history. When I speak up and go against white supremacy, I honor that resistance.
I honor my history.
Yes, it is scary, it is terrifying, it is anxiety inducing but it needs to get out of your body. You cannot continue to hold everything in. Every time I feel my heart beat or that physical discomfort, I speak up. I honor my ancestors. I honor their resistance. Every time I speak up, I honor myself.
That heart beating is my ancestors.
Speaking up allows us to regain the voice that was taken from us.
That heart beating is my voice regaining its power after years of external oppression and internalized messages. The internal and external forces telling you to “calm down”, “ not be so loud”, “ not make people uncomfortable”, “not make things awkward” are silenced when you speak up.
Part of my wellness journey has been to listen to my body and honor what it needs. Our bodies tell us what they need, they may be sleep, food, water, and, most importantly, when to speak up.
It can be exhausting and, with time, you will learn what battles to choose.
It is terrifying. It is scary. It is necessary.
Your voice is important. Your ancestors are rooting for you. Your body is asking for you to let it out.
Regain that voice.
Do not hold it in.
Let all of it out.
Honor your history. Honor your voice. Honor yourself.