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  • Writer's pictureShanice The CEO

Buzzword: Authenticity - 3 Ways to find your Authentic Voice

I was today years old when I found my authentic voice. Well, maybe not that old, but with this trend to show up authentically it has been recently that I have taken intentional time to research and understand what this means. As a professional coming up in the 90s and 2000s, it was rare that I heard "be yourself" when coming into work. I think I only heard "come as you are" in church, and even then there were some parameters. As a minority woman in this society, being authentic was not the norm. Rarely someone rolled out the red carpet to hear someone that looked like me speak (there was Oprah...and we know her story). Now we are in a world where authenticity is a necessity. Everyone is saying they expect you to be who you are, where you are, at all times. This can be challenging when you spent years suppressing just that to survive. How do you awaken something/someone who has been dormant? How do you find the authentic voice that you possibly have never heard before? I have spent months and years working to reintroduce my authentic voice to myself and others. Here are three things I have done to remove the survival part of me and show up loud and free.

#1: Listen to your heart

Identifying what those things are that bring out the emotion in you is key to finding your authentic voice. These are the things that you innately find most valuable and important. Learning them helps to add a genuine tone to your messaging when you speak about them. Equal access to resources for women of color is my heart-string occurrence. When I speak about my reflections on current events where legislation has challenged this ability for women to acquire the same privileges as other groups, you not only hear the expertise from ample hours of research but also the passion to take action in this space. Listen to your heart, it never fails in telling you who you are.

#2: Talk to yourself daily

Yes, this may sound a bit insane, but having conversations with yourself routinely strengthens your confidence and comfort to hear your voice. Sharing this reminds me of the HBO show Insecure where Issa Rae's character would have deep conversations in the mirror. I felt a bit affirmed watching this because it not only displayed self-reflection but she would walk away from those conversations with self-awareness and understanding. I have found that my voice is the first thing I hear each day helps me recognize when I am speaking, versus me assimilating to others' voices. So I pick a topic while looking in the mirror and just have a nice little chat with myself. It can be anything, like what I am excited for the day ahead; and those things I am dreading to get to. Speaking out loud also helps your mind and body get a tune with your voice. Body language is a key indicator of authenticity. If your body isn't matching the tone of your voice, I know there is something off, not right, and possibly not all truthful. Talking to yourself to get to know your voice is helpful to exercise those vocal cords and gain a holistic alignment of who you are.

#3: Disregard Everyone Else

Artificial intelligence has been around for years, especially in the form of voice manipulation. This may show my age but I remember getting one of those microphones that altered your voice. I think the music game calls it "Autotune". Autotune was once used to correct the singers' tone. Then it quickly became a tool for rappers to create their unique sound and add more flavor to it (look up my favorite: T-Pain). In this instance, it wasn't that they didn't have a voice, but that they were modifying it to meet a demand. How many times do we autotune our voices? Like when a bill collector calls? Or during a boardroom presentation? Society has taught us the best way to survive is to assimilate - but it comes at a price. That price is losing the essence of who you are. Finding your authentic voice is making the choice to not assimilate and regain your essence. It is to stand independently in your cadence and speak your truth. You will hear things like "code-switching" or "leader speak". I lost count of how many times I was told I needed to speak a certain way in leadership meetings. But there is a difference between professionalism and authenticity. You can be your true self and be professional as you do it. So disregard what everyone says you should be doing to show up in this world and learn how YOU want to show up - and then speak on that.

If you would like to learn more about growing in your authenticity, reach out, and let's chat about it. It is not something that happens overnight. And if you are like me who has spent years assimilating in work and life to get by, you will need to do the work to realign yourself back to yourself. I personally do this work with my therapist (highly recommended if you can). I also practice with trusted coworkers and friends who appreciate who I am, genuinely. It does take time, but it is worth it because you gain confidence, peace, balance, and integrity in your life. So I hope you continue in this work. We need your voice. Let it be loud and YOU!

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