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I’ve always hated the sound of my voice. In high school, I entered oratory contests for the money when I won. Some were far away and instead of speaking in front of packed conference rooms, I recorded myself in tiny windowless rooms in the school library and sent tapes off, who knows where, to be judged. I imagined circles of old men in conference rooms, my voice echoing from a tiny black box inside them.
I’ve always hated the sound of my voice: more nasal and higher-pitched on tapes than in my own ear. Above all, still childlike even though twenty years have passed since I could be called “child.” There is still some fresh, small, vulnerable quality that keeps childhood wounds in the present and reminds me that I am still (not fresh) small, and vulnerable.
I’ve always hated the sound of my voice, but on video it sounds almost ok. I’ve been videotaped teaching and in those moments I’m transformed. Freshness is excitement in the classroom, and smallness, vulnerability…these are qualities my college students share. I think they try so hard to be adults, not knowing yet that maturity comes in part from knowing it’s ok to ask for help.
I’ve always hated the sound of my voice, but maybe it’s time to stop.