I have always had a loud voice, not metaphorically, but in voluminosity. Specifically my laugh would often get me in trouble. I remember my maths teacher telling me to be careful in class because if there was a group of us chatting, I would be picked on because I could be heard the loudest. This didn’t necessarily mean I wanted to use this voice.
I’m not sure what happened between the ages of 8 – 12, but I became incredibly shy and embarrassed of myself. Before this, I was a really confident young girl who loved to be the centre of attention and basically boss all my friends about. I have so many happy memories of being at infant school, which when I tell my friends they’re shocked, saying they barely remember it! I also have rich, wonderful memories of secondary school, which luckily my friends do still remember, but when it comes to those in-between years of Junior School, my mind just blanks. It’s like someone’s just reached into my metal memory box and taken them out, leaving nothing behind. The memories that I do have are of me being really quiet. I stood at the back of every group, teachers always forgot my name, and I didn’t make any new friends.
I’ve never really thought much about that period of my life and why I became so bloody boring! The only thing I can put it down to was becoming very self-aware. At home, I was the only girl in my family. I’m lucky enough to have a big family, but it is all boys, and when I became aware of gender, I hated it! I started noticing the boys were getting away with basically anything whilst if I didn’t tidy up after dinner, I’d get told off. There was a lot of expectation on me to help my mum, auntie, and grandma in the kitchen at family gatherings whilst the boys would get to mess around. One particular moment I remember was a family holiday in Cornwall where I got screamed at from my Grandad and Dad for being too ‘loud’ and ‘screechy’. All I was doing was playing with my cousins, who just happened to be boys, and so they were let off for doing the same thing. That certainly quietened me down; the realisation that I would always be picked on over the boys and the anger that comes from people seeing a girl use her voice.
So what do you do when you get told off for something you can’t change? You just own it!
I credit confident ladies like Charlotte Crosby, Nikki Graham, and Miley Cyrus who came about at the right time in my teen years when I needed to see women who were loud, unapologetic, and made their feelings heard. They encouraged me to just laugh about everything. Your Grandad calls you screechy? Hilarious. A random lady in Wetherspoons says your laugh sounds like Janice from Friends? Lol. School friends in the corridor imitate your voice? Haha, it’s wonderful that people notice you!
Secondary school Amy realised that the way to make your voice heard is to embrace every insecurity that you have and to turn every negative into a positive! Laughing at yourself means loving yourself and being confident enough to allow people to see you. The things that are holding your voice back are the things that make you special; and at the end of the day, it’s all just one big laugh isn’t it?