| First Published in Kouga Express |
Sometimes the thing we are afraid of doing is the same thing we must do. On the other side of fear is our destiny; it’s where endless possibilities await. When we give in to fear, we give up on our future, our voice.
Recently I did a motivational talk at a school. A teenager came up to me afterward and asked, ‘How do you manage to speak in front of people like that? I don’t think I’d ever be able to do it myself!’
I responded, ‘The more you do it, the easier it becomes.’ It made me think of my voice and the journey I went through to find it. More importantly, it made me think of the voices I listen to and respond to.
I lost all of my hearing due to a fever I had as a baby. By the age of two, I wasn’t responding when my name was called. Hearing tests determined that I had 97% hearing loss. A defeating voice spoke to my parents, saying, ‘Vicki’s life is over.’ Another bold voice spoke: ‘Will you focus on how big your problem is? Or how big your God is?’
My parents focused on the latter. I received my first hearing aids, and my parents encouraged me to use my voice. My voice was given back to me, and I quickly learned how to speak like a hearing person.
Fast forward to high school, where jealous girls compared themselves to me. At that stage I wore no hearing aids, so lipreading was my only means of communication. I excelled in it, but I could no longer hear my voice. Was I speaking too loud? Or too soft? Did I mispronounce words? Was I making a fool of myself? The girls knew that and targeted me in that vulnerability.
My voice was now being silenced. A tormenting voice said, ‘Your voice doesn’t matter. Shut up; be quiet.’
I developed a fear of speaking in front of people. After a shooting accident at the age of fourteen, the voice of depression haunted me: ‘End your life; it’s not worth living anymore.’ Soon afterwards, I had an encounter with a soft, still Voice that spoke to me and said, ‘Your life has a purpose. But you have to come and find your identity in Me.’
I shrugged off the discouraging voices and chose to listen to the Voice that gave me my life back. First off, I took drama classes so I could learn how to pronounce words, use my pauses, change the tone of my voice, etc. Then, I signed up to do evangelism at the local hospital every Wednesday morning before school.
I was getting my voice back by listening to the right voices.
By the time I finished high school, I was wearing hearing aids again. The 40% that I could hear helped me when it came to waitressing. That disheartening voice came back. When I served people, they would ask why I had an ‘accent.’ The voices asking me this specific question almost took my voice away again, but I chose not to let it silence me.
When I won Miss Deaf South Africa, I became a motivational speaker. Now my voice was daring, courageous, fearless, and unafraid. Every time that voice of ‘You’re different; you’ll make a fool of yourself’ came up, I would shut it down by doing more motivational talks, radio and television interviews. On the other side of the voice of fear, is a voice of destiny and purpose. I found my purpose in sharing my story.
I call this column ‘Vicki’s Voice,’ because I believe voices are significant. My voice is unique; no one sounds like me and no one ever will. My voice has a certain frequency, a certain vibrancy that only I can bring forth. What’s your story; what does your voice sound like? Do you have something to say? What are you saying? Is it loud and clear? More importantly, what voices are you listening to?
Here’s an uplifting song that greatly encourages me when it comes to allowing certain voices to speak to me: