Finding your voice is a journey worth the effort

There is nothing worse in music and art than talented people with nothing original to say. The world is filled with people who can play classic songs, but far fewer that can create them. What separates these two groups is a matter of voice, or more specifically the ability to share one’s unique voice with the world instead of relying on the phrasing and perspective of those who came before.

Everyone is unique, so everyone should have a unique voice. The problem is that most people never take the time to ask themselves who they are when removed from everything that influences them. They get so caught up in the woulda, coulda, shoulda moments in life they forget to think about what is actually unfolding and how they feel about those events as they occur. In short, they never find a voice that is their own because they’re too busy worrying how others – usually those who also have no idea what their voice is – will react.

We human beings have a tendency to get ahead of ourselves. As long as our basic needs are covered our mind is provided the opportunity to consider things other than what we are doing one moment to the next. We ponder questions and notions that we have no business considering because we have nothing better to do with our time (or so we tend to believe). We always want to know what’s coming, where we are going, and above all else whether or not we will be safe throughout this wild journey that is life.

The problem with attempting to live and think this is way is two-fold. For starters, those who live life thinking about what might come next are destined to miss out on the present. They are also wasting their time, as the person they will be when whatever comes to pass actually happens is most likely not the person they are today. People are constantly changing, often in ways too small to notice, every day of our lives. Each morning we awake as a new version of ourselves because we now have the understanding of everything that occurred before we last closed our eyes. To fully experience life one must embrace that constant evolution and live within it, growing with each new moment that passes.

In matters of creativity, getting ahead of yourself is a real problem. In order to find your voice and express it you must first learn to live in the moment. Stop looking at your phone, stop talking to the people around you, and for just a few moments focus on your breathing. Consider everything you are thinking and feeling in that moment as you take in the world around you. Don’t settle for surface thoughts of temporary happiness or easily fixed discomfort. Dive deep into yourself and pinpoint exactly what is motivating you to take another breath. This is not so much something you discover as much as realize over time, and no amount of forced efforts will produce the result you seek.

To have a voice is to be comfortable with who you are in the moment. It means understanding that you are more flawed than not and continuing to push forward in hopes of becoming something better over time. You can fool a lot of people by learning to impersonate the greats, but people will always be able to recognize the true originals. There are few things every human is capable of doing, but recognizing an original voice is one of them, and when those people enter our lives we tend to keep them around as long as possible. Why? Because the fact someone else can be unabashedly themselves gives us hope we may one day do the same. That’s all anyone really wants, after all. To be seen and heard for who they are, not who they promote themselves to be, and to be accepted without hesitation.

It may not feel like it right now, but the world is willing to accept you for who you are just as soon as you are able to do the same. Embrace every element of what makes you tick, both good and bad, and set to becoming a better version of the person you see in the mirror each morning. As you do this, share your journey through whatever means help you cope with the stresses of persistent evolution. Don’t hide the bad parts because those are the things people often relate to most. We may all long to be the hero of our own story, but most of the time we feel like the villain. The key is remembering everyone feels this way and that such feelings are normal. Finding your voice isn’t about showing people you have it all figured out, but rather being able to admit the many ways you are still lost. When you do this you attract others who feel they are in a similar position, and through the bond that mutual understanding creates you can find paths to becoming better people together.

If you’re reading this please understand that I appreciate you desire to become a great writer or creative mind as fast as humanly possible, but understand there are no shortcuts. Finding your voice takes time, and until you understand who you really are you will be unable to fully share your unique experience on this planet with others. Make it a point to look inward and in time you will discover the guidance you’ve been seeking have been with you all along. Just be patient, open, and willing to step outside your comfort zone. Everything else will fall into place if you give it a chance.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.