A voice for a pair of ears

by Devina Gunawan

I struggle with my voice. I choke on my own words. I cry in silence and people know nothing about me.

And I know I am not the only one.

We struggle with acceptance, a warm place we can call home, and a home where we belong. Some of us are lucky, and some of us are, not so much.

Some of us are just those who can blend into the society easily. A lot of people who share the same vision and mission stick together, and they build their own family.

And there are a few who are, very much different from the rest.

When I was a baby, my mother bought me puzzle games. She was so proud seeing how focused and fast I was, solving something ahead of my months. I was a very happy child, and people told my mom, “Your daughter’s eyes are full of stories.”

When I was a year and a half, I found and held a pen in my hand. Awhile later, I found papers. And like magic, I started drawing. I remember few years back when I went through old stuff and found my sketches from when I was two. I drew much better than I do today.

And when one looked at my drawing, one would know what was going on in my head. What I had on mind. What I dreamed of. Everything.

Then, I learned how to dance when I started running. Even if someone asks me today, “How can one truly know the real you?” I will tell them, “Watch me dance.”

So perhaps, I am the lucky one. I write my thoughts out in my sketches, sing my stories through my eyes, and show my soul in my dance routine.

But the world does not always go that way.

I grew up in a family that talks. Everybody talks about everything, everyone, and whatever else relevant, or irrelevant. And thanks to them, I am pretty loud. I can be shy and quiet, but if given the chance, I can be the loudest in the room.

Few people I have met have told me, “You talk too much.” And, apparently, based on the information I give them, they build an image of me. And I guess, that is the proper way.

A lot of times, people are surprised to find out that I am nothing like they have imagined me to be.

Because my words do not mean much.

I am different. My voice is found in my art. Without it I am silent. Without it I have nothing.

And I have such views, so different from those I grew up with and those I meet on daily basis. That when I finally express my thoughts with my voice, they shut me down. I am not used to voicing out my desires too, that when I do, I sound selfish to my own ears. I am not used to my voice to express what matters to me most, and when I get to it, nobody listens.

It may not hit a lot of people, but it takes a lot for me to speak up about things that are important to me. It takes so much out of me to just get the words out. And I get nowhere further than misunderstood.

And it hurts so much when I am told, “You are crazy,” or “You have such liberal views and ideas.” It is like you are given one chance to fly, and the moment you take off, someone pulls you back down.

Sometimes, I wonder if I sketch my thoughts and show it to the world, will someone finally be able to read my mind? Will someone finally pick up the pieces that I illustrate and put them together? Will someone be able to look me in the eyes, forgive me for my silence, and tell me, “I understand”?

But the world does not work that way.

The world does not care.

And I guess, it is okay. I can tell myself that a lot of people do not have what I have. I have limitless supply of papers to sketch on, a place to pour out my thoughts and dreams.

I can tell myself that a thousand times over and still cry myself to sleep.

Because I struggle with my voice. And I am not the only one.

And the world struggles to listen.

But growing up with this struggle, I turn out to be a listener. I refuse to let anyone feel the way I feel. I refuse to let anyone cry to bed the way I do. And I refuse to let anyone feel unheard and alone.

And if you are reading this and you understand the pain, know that there is at least one person out there who will listen to you.

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