Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finding Your Voice

In late June, I came down with an obnoxious summer cold. After a couple of days, I completely lost of my voice, and couldn't speak above a whisper for the better part of 5 days. For a motor-mouth like me, this was a big deal. It was tolerable at home (although the cat wasn't convinced I was really one of his people). It was weirder at work: I couldn't change my voice mail greeting, had to answer the phone whispering "This Jey. I have laryngitis", and couldn't take part in informal over-the-cube-wall chats. But it was worst going out in public. I avoided to going shopping, even to the grocery store, and used self-check-out so I wouldn't have to try to talk.

In other words, it was an isolating experience, and made me feel conspicuous and uncomfortable. It gave me more empathy with those who, for reasons of disability, language, etc., have barriers to communication in their everyday lives - especially when those barriers aren't going to go away like my laryngitis did.

It also made me think about the importance of finding and using your voice, whatever it is. It may be speaking, writing, singing, painting, cooking, or gardening. It may be acting as the enthusiastic leader or the energetic follower. It may be speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves, or bringing up the difficult topics when no one else will.

And it may be acting as the positive person who brings encouragement and hope during tough times.

We all have opportunities to find and use our voice in our libraries and our personal lives. We're lucky to work in a field that values diverse voices.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you and hearing your voices at the SSD conference next week!

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