Out of all the assets we women have to dazzle the world -- hair, dress, movement, scent and more -- none gets ignored more than the mysterious and sensuous power of our voice. Why then, I ask myself, are so many of us today not using it to its full extent?
One obvious answer might be posture. I'm thinking about a woman I met recently. Her head was tilted toward her hand or lap, to where a smartphone or smart tablet might be -- you can probably guess where I'm going with this -- she spoke down, in the direction of the device.
"Speak up," I wanted to say, and I wasn't referring to her volume. From what I observed, it felt habitual for her, that she wasn't even aware how her positioning diminished her presence.
One thing we don't want to do, ever, is diminish our presence.
Another reason a woman may be too shy to use her full voice could be because of an invisible device inserted in her mind from something or someone outside of her: her culture, a man or parent/guardian. I'm talking about the idea that a woman should be seen and not heard, which is a lie that stunts her ability to discover who she is and keeps her from expressing in her full metaphorical voice.
Growing up in my house, I chose to be a quiet girl as a way to feel safe. When I was 7, I was taken to an outdoor concert where I saw a beautiful woman on stage about to sing. As soon as her voice floated over our seats, the desire to sing grabbed a hold of my heart and didn't let go until I was 30 and dared myself to take lessons.
What took me so long?
Fear. Fear took me so long, which brings to me a last possible reason some of us rarely access the full range of our voice. The kind of fear that has nothing to do with upbringing, heritage or etiquette, but is directly related to the following quote by Marianne Williamson, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."
The first time I had a visceral sense of my own personal power was after I'd started taking lessons. The decision to act on my childhood desire gave me the slice of courage I needed to hear if the wait was going to be worth it. I lived in a place with good acoustics, high ceilings and hardwood floors and one night, alone, with no one around to judge me except myself, I began as I'd been instructed. I pushed my voice from my lungs up through my throat, where I allowed it to move through my nose, my head and out my mouth. My ribs vibrated, my jaw and parts of my skull quivered; my bones were responding to my breath! It felt strange and weirdly intimate and kind of joyous, too.
That's why I get frustrated when I see girls, ladies and women bypassing this wonderful physical attribute. Because I know what they're missing!
So, to those who may want to explore your vocal abilities, experiment. You don't need to be a singer or an actress, though, if you're timid about how you might sound like I was, the right vocal coach could help. Play around with it. I did. I found a secluded place where I could let loose. I spoke from just my head then just from my lungs. I spoke loud, went soft, let it come from my my gut and found places in my throat to darken, lighten and shade it with feelings.
Discovering the range of one's own voice is an intimate journey, both metaphorically and literally, and oh so worth it.