As a young girl, my parents praised my soft voice, citing it as a very "ladylike" quality. Small in stature and infinitely feminine, my soft melodious voice was an appropriate fit for my shy teenage personality and introverted lifestyle. Yet as I matured and became more independent, I yearned for a stronger, more powerful voice to match the assertive woman I planned to become.
For someone with a powerful voice, my "issue" must be puzzling. Yet struggling to be heard has been a challenge my entire life. I'll never forget giving oral book reports in grade school. I'd wait until everyone else had given theirs before proceeding to the front of the classroom. No matter how relaxed and self-assured I felt, when I opened my mouth, a pathetic, squeaky chirp emerged. On good days, the class looked at me with subdued pity, while on bad days, they'd burst into laughter.
Thankfully, I had a few close friends and strong enough self-esteem to endure the momentary embarrassment. I knew that the pathetic voice the class heard wasn't the "real" me.
Vocal classes in college brought some improvement, along with judicious practice at public speaking. I joined Toastmasters, the campus debating team and became president of the Spanish club. I'd love to say that I've gotten miraculously louder over the years, but that would be an exaggeration. In public settings, I command the attention of my audience with my poise and intelligence more than with my decibel level. I'm more confident than I was in grade school, but my volume increases significantly only when I clip a microphone to the front of my blouse.