Finding my voice

HBC Young Adult Retreat, St. Meinrad Archabbey, 2013

HBC Young Adult Retreat, St. Meinrad Archabbey, 2013

It’s been a while since my last post, but that one was a big one for me. I just got back from my church’s most recent Young Adult Fall Retreat. It was a great time to get away, get vulnerable, and reflect on things for a bit. Our topic was “Threshold” as pictured in the shirts above (I’m in the red jeans front and center).

On the retreat we had 26 people of various ages from 18-35 come together and talk a bit about living in the liminal moments of life which we Millennials are constantly involved in. We were separated into smaller groups and had some fantastic, gracious, non young adult folks from church come participate and lead some of the group discussions. I really enjoyed this time.

I wasn’t familiar with some of the people there, and was happy to get to know people I’ve never met before, but who were excited to share, listen, and grow with each other through the weekend. One of my favorite activities was creating our own threshold (aka door) activity (pictured below). We watched a TEDx Talk on closets (linked at end of the post), we re-recreated our own ‘doors’ representing our Thresholds in life. And we wrote our own personal mission statements we worked on developing during some alone time. Part of my mission statement mentioned “speaking truth as necessary”. This got me thinking about Finding my voice.

doors

I’ve not always been this way. I don’t have all the answers. I say “I don’t know” a lot. Something I do know is that for a long time, I know I wasn’t a very confident person. I would likely back down from conflict and let people walk all over me. That changed quite a bit after moving to Louisville, becoming independent, and really figuring myself out. I was able to recognize things differently, and how I wasn’t the effeminate nerdy teenager anymore and I had to do things for myself. And it’s been both rewarding and empowering at the same time.

Some people will probably argue I’ve always been a talker, but what I’ve recognized as I have gotten older, is that I was avoiding silence. I do concede I think I was extroverted as a kid, and I can still be extroverted as needed, but I mostly identify as an introvert nowadays and really like my ‘me’ time. It’s how I recharge. So what lead me to finding my voice? Well, I mostly attribute it to 3 things (already mentioned the first).

Moving away from home and learning to live independently. Like I said before, I had to learn to deal with my problems because my parents weren’t there. It was just me.

Becoming a working professional. I held jobs before, but I think those contributed to the process leading up to my first jobs in Louisville. Having a job as a Hall Director was much different than being an RA. Starting to work in Corporate America was even more different than working in an academic setting. Each of them presented their own issues/opportunities, but each of them taught me how to effectively begin to assert myself when needed.

Joined a Baptist church. You may laugh, but I have to say this has been a pretty big influence. I’ve participated in various committees since I joined the church from hiring a fabulous Young Adult Minister to editing the church’s bylaws. It’s helped me learn how to effectively and lovingly use my voice to get a point across. If you’re not familiar, Baptist churches are usually Congregational churches, meaning the congregation decides everything as a group. Over the years of going/listening/participating in regular business meetings (not the most fun), I’ve learned to appreciate the process, even though it sometimes seems to take a long time to get something approved.

Learning to find my voice has been pretty valuable to me professionally, personally, and has helped encourage me to create MillennialGeek. I know I’m a better employee because I’m able to articulate concerns I may have during a project, opportunity, etc that might help reduce risk down the road. It’s helped me be a better self-advocate and self-promoter when trying to interview. And it’s helped me tell my story.

I’m interested to hear your story about your voice. Have you found your voice? Are you an introvert/extrovert? Would love to answer any questions you might have. Also, be sure to check out the video below, it’s totally worth it.

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