How To Use Your Own Voice

By Ethically Kate

Most weeks, I receive an Instagram message or email, asking “how can I use my voice?” How can I speak up about what I believe in? How do I speak up without attracting hate? How do I spread my reach from 20 to thousands?

If you are one of these people, I applaud you. You’re freaking brave; you know that?

There are people in the world with no voice, and there are people in the world who don’t use their voices. I’m glad there are people in the world who are ready to use theirs. I’m talking about you.

Before I address these questions, I want to make something clear. When I say voice, I don’t mean your literal voice box. I’m talking about your power to speak up for what you believe is right and wrong. To push for change in areas you are not okay with, and to actively defend the kind of world you wish for.

Here are 5 things you need to know before you begin using your own voice.

Use your voice

This is going to sound like I’m telling you to suck eggs (ew), but it’s one of the most important things to absorb. I want you to avoid becoming a robot that uses someone else’s voice with no fresh take or understanding of what you are truly saying. It's easy to get caught up in someone else's voice. But when you do, your impact falls - quick.

The way you advocate for women’s rights will look different to the person next door. The way you explain our climate crisis, will not sound the same as the friend standing next to you. That’s how it’s meant to be.

No one likes a rambler

You know those people at parties who just CANNOT STOP TALKING. Yeah, the people who find you by the chip bowl and start chewing your ear off without warning. They’re lovely, and you love what they have to say, however a conversation, by its very definition, is a talk between two or more people.

Take my advice: please don’t be a rambler. I’m not talking about your party etiquette anymore, I’m asking you to use this analogy to guide your conversations online and off. If you’re about to use your voice, know when to use it and when to stay quiet. Using your voice can look like strategic silence. Using your voice may look like not literally using your voice at all.

I guess what I am trying to say, is strategise your communication style.

Don’t wait for people to come to you

Argh, how many times do I have to say this? It’s almost like when someone is really passionate about a topic, they expect every human being to levitate towards them, grab a cushion, and sit at their feet. Unless you are Gandhi (if you are, please email me back ASAP), this probably won’t happen.

If you are going to use your voice, you need to get the truck out of your comfort zone and go get em, tiger. Sign up to be part of a local community group relating to your ‘why’. Interact with the people that inspire you online. Share about and engage with others. Collaborate. Oh did I mention collaborate? Yip: you should also collaborate (p.s. This doesn’t look like waiting for someone to ask to collaborate with you).

Back yourself

Don’t use your voice if it’s not worth listening to. I personally think it is, but you need to back yourself because as much as I’d like to help, I cannot do that for you.

Successfully using your voice looks like believing in yourself. Sure, you’ll have your moments - I sure do - but you must be confident in your own voice to begin with. I say this not only because your voice will ring out further if you truly back yourself to your core, but when stuff gets hard, and you receive yet another Facebook message telling you how terrible you are… you’ll need some self confidence. You’ll need to have the courage to internally say “but I know my truth, I back myself, I respect myself, and that message does not have power over my life.”

I want to emphasise again: this doesn’t mean you have to have all your shiet together all the time. Not in the slightest. Backing yourself is the basic level of certainty that you’re doing the best you can with what you know, and you’re using your voice in a way that is helpful and productive.

Note: I’m not saying you’ll definitely get hateful responses when you use your own voice. But if your voice is being shared with multiple people across the globe, the chances are incredibly low that everyone will agree with you. If everyone did, I would be concerned you had started a cult.

Understand that just because you are using your voice for something, doesn’t mean everyone else should too

I find this part really difficult. When you start using your voice to make positive change in the world, it’s hard not to feel offended when everyone else doesn’t jump on the bandwagon too.

Let others use their voice however they want to. Or not at all. It’s actually up to them.

The world needs individuals pushing for same sex marriage to be legalised. The world needs environmental activists. The world needs people fighting for racial equality. The world needs plastic free advocates. The world needs humans who use their voice to eradicate poverty.

And also, just while we’re at it…

The world needs you. Use your own voice. Please.