“The most important thing is to find your voice and use it.”

I wrote these words on a friend’s Facebook wall recently in response to her proclamation that she was more determined than ever to finish her degree. And in so many ways this statement represents the watershed in my struggles as a researcher and writer. Finding my voice has meant finding a real sense of confidence: that I’m allowed to make claims and that I’m worthy of making these claims.

Before working through these issues I spent a lot of time ruminating on my inadequacies. “Other students come from much better academic backgrounds to their study of Byzantine art.” Or, “Other students have fewer life commitments and are able to devote the best of their time, energy, and attention to their dissertations.” Worse, “Nothing I write or say has ever been or will ever be good enough.” 

Voice in writing is something I haven’t fully understood yet. I understand it as a general idea about my perspective and opinions, but I’m not sure I’ve fully internalized the power of embracing and using my voice. It does seem like a strong antidote against feeling like an impostor. I’m not necessarily better at conflict or criticism, but at least I’m more confident that I have a voice as a writer.

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