A Lesson on Voice

Allow me to start by saying that I am a Digital Media and Communications major with a double minor in English and Journalism. My entire life revolves around words in the form of essays I write to complete my academic requirements, articles I submit to The Wheaton Wire, and in the emails I send to professors and employers. Even choosing a career path in the journalism field centers on how well I can harness linguistic power to inform or persuade others through the written word. Years have been spent on polishing and growing my voice to portray a sense of confidence as I write what I believe in, and it has always been easier to express myself through type and print.

Therefore, when I got my tonsils out a week ago I was in for a shock.Yes, I could write just fine, and yes I found ways to communicate before I regained my ability to speak, but for the first three days after surgery I struggled immensely, feeling powerless. I had always been so focused on the metaphorical and figurative aspects of my “voice” that I unintentionally disregarded the physical manifestation of it until I was forced to resort to unfortunate attempts at charades, texting, and a whiteboard and expo marker combo (of which ran out of ink on day two). Multiple discoveries came to light throughout this experience. First, my mum is horrific at charades and mind reading; the problem definitely wasn’t me … not entirely.

Second, everyone should learn at least basic sign language at the same time as the alphabet. And last but certainly not least, my entire concept of “voice” needed to be re-evaluated, desperately. In hindsight, I feel foolish for thinking that the written word was the most important aspect of voice. I work as a tour guide for goodness sakes, I spend two hours a week talking at prospective students as I drag them all across campus, giving them information in the same manner as providing evidence in a non-formal informative essay. Every interview I have has involved a resume, yes, but most employers are more interested in dialoguing about experience and interests. In-class discussions are a crucial part of learning material in college courses and we certainly don’t sit there emailing each other our thoughts and opinions. No, we use our physical voices to express our opinions and analyses. Perhaps this viewpoint had escaped me due to my rather quiet disposition in social settings, but now it hit me like a bus.

I have come away from this experience with a desire to expand and strengthen all aspects of my voice, valuing each one no less than the other. At the end of it all, I have found that the most important is learning to treasure your voice, and that is crucial to learn ways to express it, even when the most obvious way is no longer an option.