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
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-
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 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.