Use Your Voice
This title may be too inspirational. It sounds like a political party’s slogan, or a song by R Kelly. Just kidding, this is post Surviving R Kelly. Take that as you will, and do yourself a favor and watch the docuseries if you’re looking to be horrified.
I’m not in love with this title, as it isn’t quirky in any way. I’m typing on my work laptop, which is hideous and heavy, on a flight to Denver. An airplane is the perfect place to vent your annoyances with the human race.
Different sounds have always been triggers for me. Thanks to 23andMe, I found out I’m genetically predisposed to being agitated by the sound of chewing and the like. It doesn’t just stop at chewing or swallowing though, there is a whole gaggle of sounds that I cannot stand.
One is the sound of certain people’s voice.
When I was a little girl, my voice was of course higher than it is now. I wish that I could hear little me, but unfortunately my father decided to tape over all our home movies. Those memories are lost forever.
I grew up in the early 90s, when there wasn’t the Justin Bieber type level of being filmed that all the young Youtubers and GenZer’s now have. I am jealous as fuck of them, as I love to reminisce on days past. If you don’t love a good Throwback Thursday (#TBT), then maybe you should go and love yourself.
Work on that, because it’s important to know where you came from, and be able to reflect on how ridiculous that person was.
I always knew that I had a deeper voice for a girl, so I changed it when I was talking to certain people. I clicked on the customer service voice, which sounds all girly and pleasantly annoying. The more you hang out with certain people, the more you begin sounding the same. In high school my voice was completely different.
I sounded like a godforsaken valley girl, and almost everything I said was purposefully moronic. I’m able to admit that now, and I was able to admit that then. I knew that wasn’t my real voice, but it went with the character I was playing in order to fit in.
When I was around family and certain friends I spoke normally. The witty sarcasm oozed out of me, and into those I trusted most. My speech wasn’t exactly monotone, but I used little inflection. It was only busted out for storytelling purposes with extra drama. I didn’t start hearing people comment on my voice until I was in my 20’s. I believe this is because I used a fake tone for so much of my youth.
As soon as I moved away to bigger cities filled with diversity, my voice came up a lot. Men started commenting on how sexy it was, due to the smoky air of it all. People began to assume I was a singer, due to the melodic way I spoke. My therapist started picking up interesting cadences that I used in my phrasing. Even Uber drivers were telling me I had to do voice over work.
All of a sudden there was an overwhelming response to how infinitely pleasant my voice was. The best compliment I ever received, (and more than once mind you) was that someone “could listen to me talk all day.”
I’ve often been curious about the responses. There aren’t many things about me that are average or normal. No one ever tells me I look like a friend or celebrity they know of. My voice is unique to me, and the reason you might be hearing this in an audiobook telling my own story.
So why is it that I cannot appreciate the uniqueness of others voices? Some people could be talking about anything at all, and I will cringe at the sound. In fact, the only reason I’m writing this now is because I am sitting behind this elderly gentleman, who is driving me MAD. He will not stop shouting in his thick southern accent, that I can still hear over my blaring headphones. Nothing can mask his twang.
Everyone has an accent they find perturbing, and southern has to be my least favorite. It cuts through me like a just sharpened knife, and then the y’all twists for the kill.
This got me thinking about my relationship with people whose voices or tone of voice I do not appreciate. I don’t tend to like them right off the bat, and I cannot concentrate on the content coming out of their mouths.
This must be why I never liked George Bush (or his daddio), and found him unfit to lead our country. I was a Republican at the time, so he was the obvious choice. However, I was too young to vote. I only began getting into politics when the beautiful and wise Obama came into office. Obama of Chicago, a midwest man to my midwest heart.
My midwest accent is basically nonexistent after 4 years of living in California. Californian’s don’t have an accent, and since they annunciate way more than anyone in Michigan, I have morphed. I go home now and hear an odd lisp, or drug out S’s from my friends. My Dad sounds kind of hickish, and so do many of the men I am surrounded by there.
I notice how sloppy everyone speaks, and I can’t get over the fact I may have sounded like this at one time. Never again Michigan, never again.
My Cali native deskmate Jason likes to say that when I get angry or annoyed, he hears my accent pop out. Deskmate is what I call the kid who shares a desk space with me, only divided by a 2 inch piece of plastic. He thinks it sounds like I’m calling him my pet. Whatever floats your boat Jason, you kinky son of a bitch.
This is more prevalent with east coast or New York accents, but perhaps the ole pet is right. I turn into a bitch from the south side of Chicago when someone pisses me off, and use that tone to show them I mean business.
There is one other circumstance where my voice changes that I am not proud of. It’s the stages of being drunk. By the time I’ve reached blackout, my voice is about 4 octaves higher than usual. I turn into an adult baby, and am whiney as all hell.
This explains why I pick up more dudes when I’m hammered. It’s the only time I sound like a true “girl.” Whatever the fuck that means. There isn’t an actual definition of what a girl or woman should sound like, but I believe that’s the closest I will get to the idealistic tone.
Why do we all sound different?
Does it have to do with where we grew up? Of course. Is it affected by the other voices we hear around us? Duh. Does it change over time, and with circumstance? If you say no, then you haven’t been reading this chapter at all. I’m going to need you to take a break, and regroup before continuing.
(insert ticking noise) You better? Cool cool, moving on.
Most of the reasoning behind our voices differing, has a lot to do with biology and science. I never liked biology, and I seem to remember getting horrendous grades in that class. In high school I once stole one of our finals, and distributed copies to some of my classmates. Somehow a test was found on one of them, and several people got suspended, but no one ratted on me.
No one suspected the cheerleader with the girly voice (ha). Common misconception, cheerleading actually requires a deeper yell, as it has more of an effect and carries better. I don’t understand the science of this, because I just explained to you I’m not a fucking scientist.
I wanted to become a singer one day, or really a triple threat, like the lord and savior herself Britney Spears. Her acting in Crossroads was less than stellar, but have you ever seen her in a comedy sketch? That bitch slays an SNL appearance.
I’m great at hearing a voice, and mimicking it. If I’m singing along to the radio, I can almost always copy the singers voice to a T. Therefore, I’m not really sure what my actual singing voice is. I don’t know what it would sound like for me to sing an original record of my own. I can’t look at a sheet of lyrics, and know how I would sing them, even after reading music for years.
I played the piano, drums, flute, piccolo, recorder (who didn’t). Things that were more logical, with a right or wrong way to play certain songs (in my mind). Singing allows much more creativity when configuring a tune. Your voice as an instrument has numerous possibilities, and that terrifies me.
Why is it so easy to use my voice when speaking, but so horrifying to use it while singing?
At one of my day jobs I got in trouble for the tone of my voice, and or the lack of excitement that it holds. My boss at the time asked me to change how “chill” I sound. She however could not communicate this in a way that didn’t make her sound like a sexist.
At the time I was in my mid 20’s, and was comfortable enough with my own voice. I wasn’t going to let anyone influence how I spoke ever again. Let this be a lesson to you girls. Talk with whatever voice you wish, you only have one so USE IT!
I tend to get carried away when I’m trying to empower the female race.
I may not be the voice of your favorite cartoon growing up, or the voice of reason in a sticky situation. I may not be the voice of an inspirational TedTalk, or of our generation. I don’t know if what I have to say is ever what people need or want to hear. I can’t belt like Christina Aguilera, or recite poetry like Maya Angelou.
I never had a plan for my voice, but I always knew that it would tell a story. Over the years it has told countless tales to anyone who would listen, and now it’s here telling you.
Whether we think so or not, our voices matter. My only hope is that through all of the tangents, puns, media references, and making fun of myself, you hear me. That my voice helps you understand a little bit more about yourself, maybe makes you feel less alone, reminds you of someone you love, or opens up your mind to something new.
I never meant for my voice to be iconic, but it appears I’m more like Joanne the Scammer than I thought.