The Voice, Bare and Rare

When I was fifteen most of my classmates, during reading sessions in the classroom, began exhibiting signs of their voices cracking, much to their embarrassment and much to a loud guffaw that followed every time a squeak escaped their vocal cords. Puberty explained our biology teacher to a classroom of about fifty boys. Uncannily enough I escaped the phenomenon. My voice, through my teenage years and later, never broke, never cracked and I grew up to be a man with a voice that for all practical purposes lacks a bass. Many of my comrades, in nicety, herald me as a man who is extremely soft-spoken while the not so nice ones, have comically and quizzically said that my voice sounds feminine. A voice quite rare!

Growing up my voice, its cadence and pitch, bothered me. In all honesty, I was never the average regular boy-I was horrible at sports, I was shy with a dash of awkwardness. Not being a regular boy leads to a fair share of mockery; now, couple that with a soft voice, mannerisms that one usually associates with the fairer sex-I was the butt of many a joke. I remember practicing cricket surreptitiously to be more “acceptable”, tried my luck at football, and I diligently tried modulating my voice to sound hoarser. None lasted for more than a day! Come what may I could never bend it like Beckham, nor could I get a mile closer to how Al Pacino sounds. But there were some silly cruel advantages that a boy with a soft voice offers to a Literature teacher-the female characters when reading Shakespeare at school were always assigned to me; Portia from Julius Caesar was glued to my existence through school.

I get mistaken for a woman on the phone, always. Uber drivers, Amazon delivery personnel, tele callers address me as Ma’am! My Human Resource personnel, when I changed jobs recently, told me of a diversity component that I would get imagining that she was recruiting a woman. My roommate used to tell me that my voice is so siren like sweet that I ought to excuse him during the instances when he would doze off at the middle of a conversation. My partner, rather kindly, tells me that my voice is soft and comforting like white noise.

The pandemic makes my predicament a notch worse. Masks filter away my voice leaving behind a sound barely audible! Annoyance accompanies my syllables when I need to repeat a phrase more than three times to a point when I am heard screaming (or squeaking), necessitating the need for a cough drop later.

However, one blessed day, without a warning, all signs of botheration left me! I reckon I was accustomed to the mistake which an unsuspecting caller would make when addressing me as a woman, or when the remarks made at my soft-spoken voice lacked any novelty. Quite interestingly before the other person can exclaim, I gracefully mention that yes, I am soft-spoken, and I sound like a woman. To the Uber drivers, the Amazon delivery personnel I play along as a woman and as cruel as it may sound, they are extra nice to me, waiting for a longer period, or hastening to deliver something at my doorstep.

Acceptance and to be able to laugh at myself has given me a new lease of life. When making reservations I am sought to speak to a restaurant manager, ‘Certainly Ma’am you can drop me, and we will have a table for you’. When the need to fix something or avail a return request arises, my voice magically sorts the issue. ‘My apologies Ma’am, we will get this fixed as soon as possible.’ Often, I proudly proclaim that I ought to be a Radio Jockey and host late-night shows, talking and comforting heart-broken souls, lulling them to sleep (I would be an overnight success). Or I ought to be the voice-over for a psychological thriller, the silky but scary softness one associates with them. I should think about a career move, right?

Having outgrown the discomfort now, oftentimes it amazes me to think that my voice bothered me in the past! Decidedly, the taunts, the mockery had to be lived to emerge happier; to be able to laugh at my own self, initiate a joke on me, has led to a surprised audience bereft of the power they hitherto wielded.

It took a while to comprehend, but here I am crooning like Selena Gomez, ‘why don’t you recognize I am so rare, living the voice, bare and rare!

Image Credit: Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

62 thoughts on “The Voice, Bare and Rare

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  1. Enjoyed reading this post. And, glad that it ends in a happy note. Guess most of us have at least one story to tell about our insecurities. Acceptance always makes life so easy but it’s always easier said than done. More often than not such situations arise because of childhood trauma, like I see in your case too. I would like to believe that there’s more sensitivity in the kids today with respect to accepting others as they are. I would like to believe that parents are practicing and preaching the same, all in the spirit of the much talked about diversity and inclusion. But I know that’s wishful thinking. Still, I think it’s better today than it was a few years ago.

    1. You are right! Incidents that occur during our childhood can leave an impact that shapes our personality in ways that we never had fathomed. It took me a while to laugh at myself but I am not quite sure if a lot of people can do that, can emerge out of their insecurities.
      Much like you, I am hoping for more tolerance and acceptance these days. And as much as it may sound way too rosy, we can hope for a much accepted society 🙂

  2. We all grow up being picked on. I was one of the loser because I’m a diabetic. Then I just withdrew from the world and lived in my fantasy, but now I don’t care. I have a tendency to just tell people to get over it.

    1. Honestly like you I had escaped to my world of fantasy, believing in ignorance being a bliss. Only later did I learn that feigning ignorance never helped and it only magnified the problem inside me. I am glad, really, to realise and equally glad to read that you emerged too. True, getting over it is the best advice. 🙂

  3. I never judge a person by the sound of their voice. As long as they can repeat the following three times in a row — perfectly and in less than 5 seconds, — they have my approval. 🙂

    Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

    1. Thank you so much Maria. True, we have had our age old definitions of masculinity and femininity but thankfully I see the barriers breaking and people more understanding and accepting. It will take a while but we are on the right direction 🙂

  4. Kids can be cruel without even realising. We are so intent on conforming to the general rule that we forget there is beauty in exceptions!
    I am so glad you have made peace with your voice. Self acceptance is so difficult but when it happens, it is very liberating. Enjoy the perks of being soft-spoken. 😊
    As always, well written.

    1. “We are so intent on conforming to the general rule that we forget there is beauty in exceptions!” How beautifully you summarize it Punam. True, self-acceptance, though not easy, can make wonders. I am very much enjoying all that comes with being soft-spoken 😀
      Thank you for your insightful words 🙂

  5. I’m glad you turned this all around. Peace with who we are is a great gift to ourselves. I had the same, but opposite, situation. I am female and have a deeper than normal voice for a girl/woman. I have often been asked about my gender. For some reason it never bothered me. Maybe because I have 3 older brothers (and younger siblings as well) that it never surprised me I sounded more like them. On the rare occasions my voice comes out soft or ‘high’ I surprise myself and it makes me laugh.

    1. I have now surprised myself when I sound hoarser and I ponder, ‘hey that’s not me’! 😀
      I am glad that I found peace and now I can laugh at myself it gives me a higher power.
      I think we can make a comical team with the man who sounds soft and the woman with a deeper voice 😀

      1. 🙂 this made me smile. It’s nice to have someone who understands an experience because of something similar. I love what you said about now having a higher power because you have found peace with it. 🙂 That is a power all to itself!

      2. Together we make a tribe 🙂 And the more I spend time here I realise this is a world where the best souls converge, sharing, empathizing and encouraging each other 🙂

  6. I think you’ve found your voice with this eloquent writing about evolving into acceptance! Beautifully written, painfully real and an inspirational journey to embrace your whole self. Thank you for this gift of a post!

    1. Thank you so much Wynne for you lovely words 🙂 It took me a while to embrace myself and know that these aren’t my shortcomings but strength. It is all about perspective right 🙂

  7. I am so thrilled for you to have crossed that threshold towards acceptance and living this life authentically, courageously, and adventurously. Everything is a gift if we are able to own it and use it to our advantage. I say this as if to myself too, having my own stories and struggles triumphed in relation to our society’s judgmental standards. I enjoyed your post, the subtle humor in your sharing – these experiences are annoying at the least or then hilarious when looked at from a distant perspective. The magic and difference that you create with your writing is the real kind, allowing us to take distance from all the definitions and projections of the world. To be the gift that you truly are to the world. I am so glad that you are here.

    1. Exactly! When I started looking at the incidents centred around my voice from a different perspective, it changed the way I think and see them. I started seeing humour in them and laughing along. I have stopped taking things so seriously 🙂
      Thank you so much for being here as well and sharing your wonderful thoughts. It means a lot 🙂

      1. “I have stopped taking things so seriously” – I still like and need this reminder time and again. Yes, perspectives make all the difference. You are very welcome!

  8. More power to you. Life is easier when you learn to laugh at yourself and ignore the bullies. Your journey is truly inspiring, and I wait for every bits and pieces you sprinkle us with. ❤️

    1. It is the same here Mystic Moth. I have seen you emerge and grow stronger 🙂 You are an inspiration really. And I’d say much more power to you 😀

  9. Kids can be very villainous in all their innocence. We as a society are so obsessed with gender conformity that accepting a deviation from the norm is not easy. Well I’m happy that you have come out of that zone with acceptance and resilience Parikhit. Wishing you the very best.
    Btw, your writing skills are very impressive, Parikhit 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Radhika 🙂 And you are right we do have a tendency to fit everything into boxes of conformity and if it seems to not fit it is ostracized! In a way I am glad that things are getting better with time and perhaps in a few years we will be in a better place than now.

  10. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about voice, it’s that no-one likes they way they sound when they hear their own voice…. at first. Then acceptance comes when you hear it a dozen or more times. Use your voice as some kind of soothing, sleep inducing radio program? Go for it! Try it as a podcast and see if you enjoy it. 😉👍🏻

    1. You are right! When I hear my own recording I always gasp that is that me 😀 But with time, acceptance came and now I use my voice as my strength if I may say that. I love the idea of a podcast, let me try that 🙂

  11. I really enjoyed this post about your voice acceptance journey story! I think this an element of self-acceptance that does not get so much attention. I love that your story ends on such a positive note.

    Not quite the same, but I feel like I’ve had a journey of sorts with respect to how I feel about my singing voice. After a very long bout of extremely terrible self-esteem, I’ve largely gotten to a place where I can say:
    1) Even though my singing voice is never going to win talent shows and auditions, that doesn’t mean that I can’t sing. (Honestly, some days, it is still a struggle to say “I can sing” or “I have a good voice” – this is definitely not the end of the self-acceptance journey!)
    2) Even if I don’t sing professionally, I can still invest in singing as a hobby. That this is a valid use of resource even if I am never going to be a professional singer.
    3) Even if other people are better singers than me, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in sharing my voice (literally and figuratively). I recently experimented with recording myself singing parody lyrics to popular songs. Listening to a recording of one’s voice is a whole other experience! Haven’t decided what do to with the recordings, but it was an experience.

    1. Thank you so much!! Were you to ask me a few years ago I would be glum about it but with time I have become wiser (older and wiser really :D) And when you mention about singing, you should keep singing. If it makes you happier than why mustn’t you continue singing. Certainly there will be some people who sing better and well there are professionals but I have noticed that singing and humming is very cathartic and isn’t it always a joy to sing along when a favourite number suddenly greets us. Keep recording even if it for your own self. There is joy in it. 🙂

      1. I haven’t decided yet what to do with those recordings, but posting on my blog came up as a possible option. I appreciate the encouragement, but perhaps if you were to listen to the recordings, you might not be quite so encouraging! LOL!

        But in all seriousness, you do have a good point. There is value in singing if one enjoys it, even if one is not so blessed with musical talent.

      2. I’m so glad. I was caught up with work but have promised to myself to not let work get the better of me.
        And I’m absolutely going to check out your recordings, knowing well that they will be great 🙂

  12. Damn, I need to get where you are. This was so honest, really struck a chord with me. And hey, you’d KILL it as an RJ. You could be like Vidya Balan in Tumhari Sulu xD. A great read as always! I’m always so happy when you upload a piece, it’s such a pleasant a break from my routine 🙂

    1. I’d definitely love being someone like Vidya Balan from Tumhari Sulu! Truth be told, Ana, were you to ask me if I was okay with how I sound a few years ago, I’d say no; it took me a while to just be and embrace my idiosyncrasies as something that sets me apart in a unique fashion, much to my strength! And seeing you I am sure you are already there 🙂

  13. “to be able to laugh at my own self, initiate a joke on me, has led to a surprised audience bereft of the power they hitherto wielded”
    When you can laugh at yourself, the laughter around you loses its punch, simply fading away. I’m happy that you finally accepted your voice and even put it to good use. Haha. Being a woman, I didn’t know that we received preferential treatment. See? Realization can be so limited. Keep talking and writing! Your words are beautiful and appreciated. 🙂

    1. You say it rightly Terveen (by the way I love your name), “When you can laugh at yourself, the laughter around you loses its punch, simply fading away.” I am glad that I could see the happiness that would come along with acceptance and slyly using it to my advantage 😀 And when you say that realization can be so limited, I am in complete agreement. It takes a gentle shake and someone to tell you of all that we were oblivious to earlier.
      Thank you so much for your uplifting words 🙂

      1. Thank you, Parikhit. You have a very unique and lovely name too. I’m sure many must be mispronouncing and misspelling it. I have sufficient experience in my own case. Haha! Your words are much appreciated. 🙂

  14. I truly loved reading your prose, and I am so glad you are singing Why don’t you recognise me I am so rare. I have had my fair share of experiences with voice. To be honest, it was with my appearance in totality, always the small, tiny, slim one I seemed to never exist and on top of it my voice was just as tiny, soft and low. I never existed in my teenage years, nor in college. It obviously was difficult. I don’t know when this happened but sometimes around my voice changed a little, it is no more tiny or soft. And although I am still tiny in appearance, my voice helps me overcome in some situations and when nothing works a tint of authority and rudeness makes my way. I am not very proud of it, but I second Bernadette in Big Bang Theory when she says that when you are the smallest person anywhere around, you have to be a bit rude and commanding to get what you deserve.

    1. “when you are the smallest person anywhere around, you have to be a bit rude and commanding to get what you deserve.”, that does seem true! And well I don’t think so it is in any way rude, it is rather making best use of the powers that we are individually gifted with 🙂

  15. Okay I have read your Post and all the comments that have come. It is just wonderful that everyone has given encouraging comment.
    It needs guts to write this post and you have it, that is your positivity.
    You write well so go ahead with it.
    Acceptance is a Great virtue and you have come through.
    Also look for other best possible things that can give you more credibility and show the world you are something else. Then they shall now down.

    1. Thank you so much Shiva and my apologies for getting back so late to your message. The blog sure has helped me to emerge stronger, with like minded, encouraging people here, I feel so much appreciated. Thank you again.

  16. Dear dear Parikhit,

    I came back looking for your blog posts as I love the fluidity with which you write to your hearts content and the authenticity of your sharing always make my heart warm and fuzzy.

    Missed being in touch.

    A soft gentle voice is always something that echoes with my soul. I have always admired soft spoken people and it’s a blessing you have a voice that can lull people to sleep.

    The RJ option is fab.

    Be in touch.
    Lots of love

    1. Natasha!! Thank you so much for the lovely words. I was weighed down by work all these months and hope to be back, reading all the lovely posts and also writing. 🙂

  17. This post has just made my day. I’m so glad that you accepted the way you are and I hope everyone must. We are all unique and have different capabilities of doing something big.
    We seek others’ approval about who we are, what we don’t realize is that the person is going to judge you in his own insignificant way.
    I’m sure your voice will be your significant strength.
    Being unique is being awesome.
    Interestingly just a couple weeks back I have written something related to it – ‘The Awesomeness of Being Socially Awkward’
    where I pointed out the same thing.

    1. Thank you so much Ritesh! I am so glad that you found positivity in this post 🙂 And you are aright, we really do not need the approval from the world, we are enough.
      And I will certainly check out your post, thank you for sharing 🙂

  18. Dear Parikhit,

    Missing your wonderful posts and responses. Hope all is well in your neck of woods.

    Some day soon we will let every being be as they are instead of boxing and labelling them.

    I am hopeful that won’t be too long away.
    And the blogosphere is blessed to have a voice such as yours.

    Sending you love and remembrances.


  19. The basic Californian attitude (if you were in Cali) would be to love yourself, love all of yourself, and thank the heavens for who you are, especially if you are rare and unique in any way.

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