Find Your Voice by Using It

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find your voice

Roughly once a month for the past year a small group of people have gathered in a wine cellar tucked away beneath a restaurant in Seattle. We gather to tell stories.

This group was birthed from a desire to use this beautiful space and a desire to create a place for people to bring parts of themselves that they want to be known to others. The structure of the evening is quite simple: each time we gather, one person brings an experience to the group and the group then interacts around it, with it, and in it. We start the night with a couple bottles of wine (ok, sometimes more than a couple) and some hors d’oeuvres. We then gather around a long, large wooden table— 16 seats attentively occupied. And then, the person of the evening (chosen by volunteering and/or some gentle pressure) begins to share.

I’ve noticed something interesting with almost every person as we’ve prepared for their night. At first, you don’t know what to share about. As we talk about this group (which goes by many names) with each other we often ask, “do you know what you’re going to share on your night?” Most reply, “I have no idea.” Or maybe, “I have a vague idea, but I’m not sure.”

The amazing thing that has continued to happen is that even when a person doesn’t know what they’re going to do beforehand, they always end up having something amazing and beautiful to say when their turn comes.

The opportunity to speak and the pressure that comes along with it is the very thing that helps you connect to your desire to and what you have to say.

Sometimes you don’t know what it is that you have to say.

find your voice

Knowing what you have to say, and finding your voice is a part of the preparation and speaking process. If you wait until you feel like you have something to say, you may never speak at all. Finding and creating places for your voice to be heard is important. Maybe it’s a journal or a blog, maybe it’s a group of friends that meets once a month, maybe it’s your therapist’s office, or maybe it’s the book that you dream of writing or the ted talk that you want to give. You don’t know what you have to say until you have a reason to say it. You can’t find your voice until (and unless) you use it.

If you want to find your voice, if you want to know what you have to create in the world, then start creating, speaking, making.

You won’t find your voice until you use it.

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There Are 11 Comments On This Post.

  1. Danny Russell

    I love this, Dan! After hearing about this group when you were in the area over the summer, I told my roommate about how cool I thought it was. This launched us into a brainstorming phase where we were trying to figure out a way that we could be intentional about hearing peoples’ stories and having opportunities to share things they are passionate about. We started this thing called Pancakes and Stories, where we have people over to our apartment every Saturday morning to eat pancakes and share life experiences with each other. It’s been so cool so far!

    • Thanks Danny! I love that you’ve been inspired to create something with your community! I hope it leads to rich, vulnerable, and formational engagement with the stories that are shared. Way to take a risk and make something meaningful!

  2. Lindy

    I’ve been waiting for a time in my week to get a chance to sit down and really read this. Enjoying hearing your voice on a weekly basis through this blog, Dan. Thanks for being a person in my life who continues to call forth my voice. I really resonated with this last post about not knowing where to start, … but I figured just by saying “I’m here” and following along would be a good start. Thanks friend.

    • This is a lovely start. Thank you. It means a lot to know you’re here.

  3. Thumbs up for places to voice oneself and to be heard! What strenght and vulnerability that grow there!

    And…..
    I want to applaud the places and spaces where one also learns the “virtue of shut up and listen”, as I call it. The more I’ve gotten to practice this surprisingly difficult side of communication, the more I appreciate it. I co-lead a women’s conversation group and oh what a struggle it is to just shut up and listen and let the partcipants think and feel and not to interrupt their train of thought. So often I’m ready to interrupt; or to let my thoughts wander; to not resist the temptation to say something hillariously funny; or to simply say something to fill the void between another person’s sentences; or simply not listen because I sit and figure out what to say next.

    It is a beautiful thing to shut up and listen, to not interrupt. To feel the pace, to give space for the silence and sharing in it, and being present and listen in a Greater Being. When I temporarily get past my insecurity I find myself in that place and it is life giving.

  4. Leighton Watts

    “If you want to find your voice, if you want to know what you have to create in the world, then start creating, speaking, making.”

    I totally see that, the desire to want to create something, to know what I’m to create, and for it to be exciting. But I think what you mentioned earlier, about waiting to speak until you feel like you have something to say is definitely something I have a hard time with when it comes to creating. I want to create something well the first time around, knowing that I’m makuing the right choice in choosing to speak/create, and not use my voice and have it fall flat on the ground. So I think where I’m growing is realizing I need to be willing to step out into that boldly, and figuring out what creating looks like by giving it a shot, and possibly failing, if that makes sense. Excited to be a part of this Dan, and to get to see you use your voice here.

    • dan

      Thanks for sharing, Leighton. Glad you’re here 🙂

  5. Love this idea! The process of sharing your story and simultaneously sharing a meal is one that is very close to my heart. If there’s ever an empty seat at this table, I’d be happy to fill it. 🙂

  6. Mark

    “The opportunity to speak and the pressure that comes along with it is the very thing that helps you connect to your desire to and what you have to say.”

    As a person working to discover my desire, voice, and want, this view point was very helpful.
    Thanks Dan!

    • dan

      Awesome, Mark! Keep up the good work! 🙂

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