Your Voice is a Beautiful Thing

by Yukiho Semimoto



My Voice is a beautiful thing.


but the activity that i hold dearest to my heart has almost succeeded in convincing me otherwise



i was almost convinced by my first captain


bronx, freshman year. he told me that in order to be good


i had to morph my voice, control it, change it


make it deeper, sound less passionate, sound more male


  be someone that I’m not . it boosts your speaks, he promised


and for so long i kept believing in that promise out of


fear that if i didn’t i would be fucked up by our society that systematically puts girls like me at a disadvantage


    

my voice shouldn’t have to change

   

it doesn’t seem fair

    

but i still feel that rotten desire to conform



my voice might never be perceived as beautiful.


i was almost convinced by my team


harvard, freshmen year. it’s easy to copy their laughter


when they point and call you an     object


when i finally had the courage to speak


you’re overreacting, they said.



and maybe they’re right


i was wrong to feel uncomfortable


there always exists a chance, a possibility


that my voice is corrupted by my


‘overreacting’   ‘manipulative’ ‘bitchy’   self.


my trust for my voice died that year.



i was almost convinced by my team, once again


tryouts, junior year. i told myself i was


overreacting


as i sat alone in the halls to calm my burning nerves,


i couldn’t get it out of my head


the countless conversations we had that week with the team


with me thinking — believing– that my voice wasn’t respected enough to be heard


waiting 10 minutes at a time to get a word in


because my voice can’t be louder than the him right across from me


i can’t talk over him-


i can.


but i’m too scared, my voice is too scared, to raise my voice might be perceived as bitchy aggression once again


i don’t want to be that bitch anymore.


i won’t raise my voice but if i don’t — my voice can’t be heard


there’s no way


and so i just stopped talking as much as i used to



shut myself up– sat silently


my voice screaming, but only in my head


drowned my voice even further.



and i quite convinced myself,


that my voice was better off muffled, just a little quieter because


maybe they’re right



You’re just overreacting


?


You’re an exception–


to the patriarchy



and even if i didn’t truly believe them


convincing myself that i was wrong was easier.


it’s easier to be the problem than to fight it


so for a happy team, i clenched my fists, i apologized– for a happy judge, i conformed.


i was no longer that little freshman girl, proud, assertive, ready to stand up for herself.



under my breath, i said three words:


change, assimilate, adapt


i succeeded in muffling my voice–




but i don’t forget that it’s still beautiful,  


it takes time to learn to own a voice


to demand respect instead of begging for it


to be confident


i’m still learning– that my voice, is a beautiful thing.




to all the muffled voices in the community:


it’s easier to stop fighting sometimes


i understand


i did that


But my one advice still remains:


don’t let anyone, especially yourself, take the beauty of your voice away from you


the moment you stop believing in it, not them — is when it finally stops shining



so believe that Your Voice matters.


because damn it. Your Voice is a goddamn beautiful thing.




Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a post to call out my teammates. Admittedly, our team dynamic is something that had (a lot of) toxic issues in the past. However, these issues are also things that we’ve had multiple conversations over the years about. While I think that my reactions to the dynamic is something that was legitimate given the circumstances, it is also legitimate to say that my team has evolved to be filled with supportive and kind people that I am very glad to be around today.

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