Winter break is a joyous time to relax, de-stress, and watch an abundance of Netflix. Although winter break is a great way to catch up on all the much needed sleep you've missed throughout the semester, it also tends to lose it's charm after a while of being stuck at home. There are many stages to winter break, and they can happen in any order.
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.
Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.
For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...
What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.
My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.
This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."
She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.
Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.
And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."
I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.
Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.
What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.
I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.
There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.
But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.
I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).
I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.
I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.
I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.
I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.
My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.
I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.
And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"
I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.
My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.
Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."
Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."
In college, people always talk about the crazy spring break trips they take and how their trip to Cancun was one of the best experiences of their life. Students who constantly complain about how much they are in debt from college and are living the "broke college student" life dump out hundreds, even thousands of dollars, for one week of fun that they did all year anyway. That was why, as a freshman last year, I decided to try and channel my energy into something more positive and passionate.
At The University of Tennessee, The Center for Leadership and Service offers a program called the Alternative Break Program. The Alternative Break Program is an opportunity for all students to spend any break (fall, winter, spring, and summer) with other people to increase awareness of different social issues through meaningful community service. Each trip is led by two leaders and focuses on one certain topic. Topics in the past have included Food Insecurity, Refugee Rights, Wealth Inequality, Youth Development, and LGBTQ+ Advocacy.
For spring break in 2018, I signed up for the honors alternative break trip focusing on Food Insecurity. What makes the alternative break program so unique is that when signing up, you have no idea where you are going. They leave out the destination in order to keep from student's decisions being based on the place and being more focused on what the social issue is.
For my trip, we went to Jackson, Mississippi. Nobody knew really what we were going into but through the trip, we learned so much about Jackson. You would think that because Jackson is the capital of Mississippi, Mississippi is the most food-insecure state in the country with a lot of being concentrated in the capital. Being there and interacting with citizens really opened my mind to another perspective.
Food insecurity is not just caused by lack of money, but age, lack of transportation, and many others. Many people in Jackson are defined as food insecure because they were not able to have a reliable access to nutritious food. For example, in one county in Jackson, the only place even remotely close was a dollar general. In other places, just gas stations. Each day, however, my group went to different organizations that were focused on helping people who were in need and were considered food insecure.
Throughout the week, we volunteered at urban farms, food banks, and community service agencies. At each place, we were able to listen to people's stories and how living a food desert affected their life and it was very enlightening. Not only was the experience being hands-on and serving the community very inspirational, I was able to meet lifelong friends who are passionate about serving just like me.
Because of my experience with this trip, I will be leading my own alternative spring break trip in 2019 with a focus on Wealth Distribution. I encourage every student to look into alternative break trips and find a focus they are passionate about or curious and spend their break doing something very moving and positive.