What Nora knows…about finding your voice


Nora Verdier

Nora shares her wisdom in her monthly column “What Nora knows.”

Nora Verdier, Staff Writer

With the start of a new school year, there is one specific goal I am trying to work on as a junior: finding my voice. For many, it is an easy task; I am in awe of students who can eagerly contribute to a conversation in class, who can effortlessly present a topic in front of 25 students, who can readily answer a question a teacher presents to their students.

I, on the other hand, may have a response to a question or a comment on a topic, yet my mouth is taped shut by the cruel tendencies of fear and overthinking, inhibiting me from voicing an opinion that may positively contribute to a discussion. This is what I want to change.

Public speaking has never been my forte. While I can comfortably state my opinions and describe my emotions in writing, I seem to lack that talent in speaking. When standing in front of a classroom for a speech or presentation, I can feel my heart anxiously beating inside my chest causing words to fall out of my mouth quicker than contestants speaking at a debate tournament. So, when I have the choice not to speak, such as in in-class discussions, I steer away from this anxiety and decide to keep silent with the hope of avoiding any mistakes.

This, I believe, is the root of my problem. While I am not proud to admit it, I am a perfectionist. I try my best to prevent inadequacy, and this is what causes me not to speak out in class – because I am avoiding potential failure. However, I have realized that voicing your opinions on a subject that may differ from your teachers’ ideas is not failure. It is an intelligence, a different perspective, a diversity that fuels our world in tackling issues that surface to discussion every single day.

We need this fuel to power our voice if we want to make a difference in the world. And the only way I can truly do this is to dismiss my perfectionist ways. In my opinion, speaking doesn’t fully rotate around precision, but around courage. Public speaking comes with imperfection.

So, if you experience the same stressful emotions I do in public speaking, let this be a reminder for you and for myself: dare to give a response that may differ with your teacher’s. Find the brilliance in your words and without hesitation, declare them to your audience. Present a topic to the front of the class with fearlessness and poise, and let your pounding heart fuel your voice.

Do not fear, but speak.