So there we were. At a restaurant, sitting around this table with people from church, when we find out somebody in our party (a young guy with a seriously epic afro) writes music. After some some cajoling — yep, had to look that word up — he finally shared his latest piece with the group.

It was super unique. Weird even. But idiosyncratic to the max.

Now get this, after he finished playing the piece, everyone asked for his Soundcloud handle.

“I don’t really share my stuff much,” he said as he sat back in his chair refusing to give us his deets. He looked down at his phone, “Just me. I maybe have one other person I share it with.”

Naturally, everyone asked why.

“I dunno,” he murmured as he played with his phone. “I just gotta find my voice.”

The myth of “finding your voice”

Have you ever found yourself in that position? Feeling like you haven’t found your ‘voice,’ or wondering if your work is unique enough to merit sharing with the people around you?

I certainly have.

A while ago, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my ‘creative voice’ was: Do I want to create happy things? Sad things? Am I suppose to be conversational? Brooding? Thoughtful? Silly?

This went on for far too long.

And you know what I realized in all of that deliberation? You can spend so much time worrying about finding your voice that you never speak. You never release anything, or worse, you never create anything. And if you never create anything, you never create anything original.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” — C.S. Lewis

Cultivating a unique, original voice as a creative is important, don’t get me wrong, but it mustn’t be our primary aim. Our task as creatives is so much more than originality. Our task is to tell the truth.

And when you are so abandoned to telling the truth, something magical happens. You find your voice.

Think about it. When you’re speaking about something you truly, deeply believe, you don’t give your physical voice a second thought. And because of that, your voice is bolder, clearer, and the world is allowed to enjoy not just the truth it desperately needs, but the beauty and uniqueness of your un-self-conscious voice.

The real issue

While telling the truth is outwardly focused, ‘finding your voice’ is an almost entirely self-focused endeavor. Buried within this seemingly innocent directive, is the presupposition that, in order to be significant, you must try to be unique.

But who says you’re not already unique? That your writing, speaking, singing voice isn’t already unique?

It’s actually prideful to think that you’re not. Who gives you the right to determine that you aren’t original enough?

You’re already unique. Your voice is unique. Your perspective is unique. Your life experience is unique.

A self-centered pursuit of originality and uniqueness can distract you from the critical task of finding and sharing truth, beauty, and goodness with the world. Not creating because you want to be original is robbing people of something they desperately need to hear.

Imagine if you decided not to physically speak to anyone until you determined exactly how you wanted your voice to sound. How isolating would that be? Imagine all of the people that would’ve been deprived of your encouragement, inspiration, and conversation. Imagine all of the things you wouldn’t have learned or experienced. Imagine the gap in the cosmic symphony, where your voice was meant to be.

As human beings, we were designed to create, share, and speak. Each of us already has a unique voice. Just like our physical voice, it’s innate. And just like our physical voice, we need to set ourselves free to learn how to develop it through thousands of hours of talking — stumbling over words, grappling with the reality of human existence.

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by an elusive idol of ‘originality.’ Give yourself space to mess up, to have your voice crack. Smile. Enjoy the process. No one is perfect. And if this seems harder than it ought, perhaps pride is to blame.

This entire blog post took me forever to write, because I was worried about ‘my voice.’ I didn’t want to be too preachy or sound too condescending. I wanted to sound clever, funny, yadda yadda. But when I started telling the truth, words filled the page. And perhaps, I took one more step towards discovering my voice.

The punchline

You already have a beautiful, unique voice, whether writing, speaking, or whatever. You have a unique voice not because of your efforts, but because you were created unique. You’re an instrument that is designed to share your song with other people in this beautiful symphony of life, so take the pressure off. Find truth and write, speak, draw, or sing it to your heart’s content.

Create freely and know that what I told that bro around the lunch table is as true for you as it is for me and for him. “You don’t have to worry about your voice, dude. You’ve already got it.”


Photo by Kamil Feczko on Unsplash