The idea for The Hidden Voices came to me one day from nowhere.
I was sitting on an old tree branch at the top of Byres Hill in East Lothian, looking out over the views of the coast.
When I thought about the concept, it was really exciting and just felt right. Like it was meant to be.
Why was that?
When I was in primary school, I volunteered to be in all the plays and performances.
Teachers and parents always complimented my Burns poem recitals.
I knew how to project my voice and liked the attention I got.
When I won a BBC Radio Scotland competition for writing a story called ‘Jack the Bucketman’, they used professional actors to perform it.
I’d have loved the chance to do it myself though!
Too shy, shy
By the time I was in high school, I was the complete opposite.
I was put in a year group without my friends and started to feel withdrawn.
Nobody really recognised anxiety or spoke about it back then.
I was just suffering from ‘shyness’.
So shy, I almost literally lost my voice for years.
I couldn’t summon the courage to speak to people in shops, bus drivers, or family members on the phone.
I lived what felt like an out-of-body experience through many of my teenage years.
Sitting silently in front of computer games felt much easier than braving the world.
Hidden voices on the streets
That started to change after a chance encounter on Twitter led me to work with a grassroots homeless charity in London called Breakfast in a Bag, now Dogs on the Streets.
Homeless people don’t have a voice.
I realised quickly that I was in a really privileged position to be able to tell their stories and raise awareness. But, also because I felt every tweet I sent was helping me to find my own voice again through people I really cared about.
This made me think about my authentic voice and why I hadn’t been true to it for so many years:
- Was it down to fear and a lack of confidence?
- Was it because I was consuming too much information from the world around me?
- Was it because it was just easier to go along with other people’s ideas?
I know I’m not alone.
We want to fit in. It’s human nature.
However, if as people and organisations, we keep swimming along with everyone else in the sea of sameness, what opportunities are we missing out on?
When I say the original idea came to me from nowhere, it was in there the entire time.
I just needed to listen.
The world needs more hidden voices to be heard.