Finding My Voice

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by Mozelle DeLong, 1st year Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling student

As an undergraduate research assistant at a large Midwestern university, I discovered my knack for APA style writing. Jumping in with both feet, I completely submerged myself in the world of research.  My writer’s voice changed as I intellectualized thoughts and feelings.

Personal experiences were excluded in order to provide an ‘unbiased’ perspective of the research.  Unbiased? Is that really possible? And, furthermore, why is this sense of self so undervalued? I reluctantly refined my writing according to the style manual, and the more refined my writing skills became, the more heartless and robotic I sounded.

During undergraduate studies, I fed this analytical, objective side of myself while suppressing my own voice, rarely speaking my personal truth.  This resulted in semester after semester of papers where I was distant from the writing I presented.  Although, in the world of research this was the norm, it never felt fulfilling or congruent with my sense of self.

I felt self-doubt, uncertainty, and confusion. Where did I fit within this framework? Where did my voice go? I could not seem to find it. Everywhere I turned, everyone was operating from this unconscious, academic frame of mind, and no one seemed to question it.

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So, here I am at Naropa University, with all of this APA style training; and I am now being asked to be authentic and actually show up in my writing. It’s harder than I imagined, challenging me in ways that I could have never expected. As I enter into my eleventh week of my first semester of graduate school at Naropa, I’m just now recognizing and untangling the writing skills that built that impersonal, rigid style of academic writing I had come to rely on.

But, I’ve made yet another leap. I’ve jumped off into an unfamiliar world of writing that combines the academic with the personal. I don’t know where I will land, but by taking that chance and allowing myself to be seen in ways that are at times uncomfortable, I am beginning to touch the heart of my expression in the most poignant way possible. Finally, now that I have made room for it, my true self is emerging, more willing and ready than ever to be heard. The moment I let go was the moment I began to find my voice again.

This is why I chose to come to Naropa (well, one of the reasons)—to be supported in showing up authentically, just as I am, and be vulnerable in ways that sometimes make me shiver. It’s hard letting once guarded parts of myself be exposed, but week by week I am shedding old layers and rekindling a relationship with myself.  I am finally exercising the voice that was stifled for years.

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