People want to keep me down, but I will prevail.
My voice is one of those loud, raspy voices that carries across a room. I can’t tell you how many times people have approached me in a crowded space and said that they knew I was present because they’d heard my voice without even seeing me.
I’m pretty proud of it. My voice.
I once went to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist because I was experiencing vertigo in college, and the only thing he was concerned about was the sound of my voice. “Yup,” he said with his enormous doctor head-lamp shining in my face as he looked down my throat. “Just like I thought. Your vocal cords are bowed. You need speech therapy.”
“I speak just fine,” I said. “I like my voice. I’m sure I damaged it from years of cheerleading, but I like the way it sounds. Now, can you please help me figure out why I keep getting dizzy?”
That wasn’t the first time I ever defended my voice, but it was the only time anyone said it required therapy. Well, speech therapy. I definitely didn’t grow into this voice without therapy! Amirite?
Okay, so my voice is different. GOOD!
I use it.
I use it to teach. To do comedy. To write. To rear my feminist children. To offer sympathy, advice or encouragement. To express myself. To protest. To debate. To cheer. To tell stories. And right now, I’m using it to try to create systemic change. I believe that an important step in my work as a change-agent is recognizing, appreciating, and owning the true authenticity of my voice.
It’s real, and it’s mine.
It’s not propped up by an establishment or a corporation or an industry that I have helped to earn millions of dollars for.
And that’s been a thing that people have noticed and have really been encouraging about lately. It’s a recurring thread connecting my conversations with folks. They’re telling me how inspiring they find my run for office because I’m demonstrating that *real people* can actually run. They like that I am true to myself and my voice and that I don’t pretend to be someone I am not. They appreciate and admire my passion. And boy, does that feel great. I feel seen. And heard.
Of course, there are those who wish for me to keep silent.
Today, a woman called to express how inadequate and unpolished and unacceptable she finds me as a candidate. She really wanted me to drop out of the race, and she tried to make me feel small enough to believe she was right about me. Yesterday, a woman, who is actually an attorney for Big Oil, called to mock me for being a comic and demanded I tell her a joke. Oof.
And this is just the beginning. I know that more will try to quiet me too.
It’s a good thing I’m one strong, “nasty” woman, and I know that I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
I’ve had plenty of people condescend to me and try to make me feel insignificant, small, and downright worthless, and there’s been periods of my development where I believed them.
But then something happened.
I grew stronger.
When I was in graduate school, I performed in The Vagina Monologues, and I was cast for a monologue that specifically celebrated and revelled in the depth and variety of women’s voices. I had the opportunity to work with the most eclectic group of badass, courageous women, and they brought so much strength and confidence to me at a time when I needed it most. After that, when I lived in Philly, it was the women from my book club that encouraged me to take that first step in my comedy career by performing in my first open mic at Helium Comedy Club thirteen years ago. That same year, a university first trusted me and empowered me with my very own human sexuality classes to teach, and that’s when I finally started to realize that my voice was strong enough and qualified enough to shift paradigms and to positively impact how people treat themselves and each other.
In 2007, I underwent a gauntlet of a job interview when I returned to work at Texas State. My interview started at 7:45 am and ended at 5:30 pm, and I met with panels and students and facilitated a presentation about how the university and the local community could work together through developing a bike-share program. I titled my presentation “A Wheel Change in the Community” because gosh, I love puns. But here’s the kicker—it was the eve of my first son’s due date, and I was a whale of a pregnant woman through that entire endurance test. I felt strong in my voice and heavy on my feet.
I home-birthed him the very next day.
I could go on about the growth and development in strength and confidence for my loud, raspy, bowed vocal cord, unpolished voice, but that’s what future blogs will reveal through this journey.
I’m a real person.
I don’t come from money.
I was born to a 17-year old girl, and I was a first-generation college student.
I don’t come from the corporate sector.
Education is my passion.
I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.
I can only be myself.
I use my voice for good, and well…polished or not…we gotta save this planet together.
I believe we can do it.
We’re just normal people, trying to do a big thing.
Powerful folks want to keep us down, but WE WILL PREVAIL!