I have a loud voice, so sue me!

I’m a little bit deaf (or something) plus I tend to get really excited about whatever I’m talking about, so I have a bad habit of practically yelling when I mean to just have a friendly conversation. It’s not so much that I’m shouting– I don’t really get that angry aggressive edge that makes really shouting— but it’s decidedly quite loud, usually much louder than I intend. It happens whenever I get too passionate about something to think about anything else; mostly, people stop me when we’ve been in a noisy room but now we’ve stepped outside, or we were in a moving car but now it’s stopped, and I haven’t adjusted my voice to stop shouting over background noise that is no longer there. But it also happens sometimes when I get just plain excited.

But there’s really no way for people to tell me I’m being too loud without making me feel like I never want to talk again.

Part of the problem is that they (by definition) have to interrupt me to tell me how loud I’m being, and while in theory I could take a “too loud!” as a good-hearted attempt to inform me of information I do truly want, when they have to completely silence me first, it makes it a lot harder to convince myself that the comment doesn’t mean “silence yourself,” as opposed to, “hey, did you know you were being loud?”

The other part of the problem is that people only really have a problem with my volume when I’m talking about my period, or sex toys, or anything else that we’re supposed to talk about quietly and with euphemisms. My voice isn’t actually any louder than it is when I’m talking about Indiana Jones, but it bothers them a lot more. And the “taboo” nature of the subject matter only reinforces the feeling that their real meaning is “silence yourself.”

I my family members and a few close friends formed the habit of putting a hand on my shoulder or something every time my voice got louder (or, as is more often the case, the room suddenly gets quieter) I could probably learn to speak more softly to spare my friends’ eardrums. But when they go, “Eloriane, Eloriane! Quiet!” and when they show a clear preference for doing it when I’m being “embarassing,” well, I hear that as, “silence yourself, woman!” and I’m sure as hell not going along with that.

I have a loud voice. And sometimes I’m a little embarassed when, as mentioned before, the room goes quiet and my voice is the only one ringing out. But it’s more important to me that when I’m talking about something I care about– Xena the lesbian icon, or how much I love my birth control– I talk about it like I really care about it. To keep my voice soft at all times, for the comfort of others, is to deny my own passions, and I can put up with the occassional truly embarassing moment to keep my passion.

It’s what makes me who I am, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. So I won’t be.

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27 Responses to I have a loud voice, so sue me!

  1. Cloudthorn says:

    Omigod, I do this too! I have a very clear voice and once the conversation gets onto something I’m passionate about I do tend to project in an unintentional but theatrical manner! Then my friend (or whoever) puts their hand on my arm and says, ‘Shh’ and my enthusiastic rant is ruined.
    While I’m speaking the only thing I think about is whatever subject I’m talking about, but as soon as someone shushes me, no matter how gently they do it, I am filled with embarrassment and I can’t think of anything except whether everyone in the room has been rolling their eyes at each other for hours and waiting for me to shut up! I’m cringing just thinking about it.
    And yes, the shushing is usually over something ‘delicate’ like the awesomeness of moon-cups or why marriage is an institution of horror and should be destroyed.

    • Ash says:

      soooo sooo sooo funny!! (and I mean that in an empathetic way) I can TOTALLY relate! I just got shushed by the hub for talking about traffic in a quiet chiropractic office — what pisses me off is it’s like “look, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE CARE WTF IM TALKING ABOUT!! they have their own lives and conversations! why are you ruining my mood and story to tell me to shush when they aren’t even going to appreciate it?!?” URGH!! KILLLLL!!!! (okay, not
      kill… but hurt… badly.)

  2. eloriane says:

    Yes, YES! That is EXACTLY what happens to me! I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one. I just get so caught up in whatever it is, I’m not even thinking about what I sound like anymore.

    And no matter how much I just want to say, you know, “screw that, I’m not silencing myself, this is important to me!”… it always makes me feel really terrible. Like, I want to believe that my voice and my thoughts are important, but that “shh” just cuts right to my heart and I want to disappear.

    I hate feeling that way, because I hate the fact that women are made to feel that way so often in a sort of broader institutional sense, and I hate playing along with the patriarchy except when I decide to, but, well, it’s tough to change your feelings just by thinking about it.

    But we can be loudmouths together anyway! I may not be able to change how I feel, but I can change how I respond, and I’m not going to respond by just shutting up!

  3. seeco says:

    Yes all of what u guys have said is vary true for me also, I was just coming out of a business class, in which I was in a presentation. After the presentation I was criticized the most only regarding my voice. I wanted to cry, maybe because I’m about to be on my period. But I’m all way hurt or hate it when people set me apart because of who I am. I just don’t know if I should find a solution or just say screw it

  4. alena says:

    everyone says my voice “carries”

    A: I don’t know what that means

    and

    B: I don’t know how to change it

    So, it makes me feel like they are complaining about something I can’t fix. It’s like telling someone to “be taller” or “grow a tail”. I can talk quieter sure, but unless I constantly whisper, my voice will always “carry”.

    I’d like to be able to fix it and stop annoying all the people with sensitive ears… If there IS a way, someone please tell me what it is.

  5. Eng says:

    @alena: Haha! For a long time, everyone said my voice “didn’t carry” and I couldn’t figure out why, even when raising my volume, people more than a few feet away couldn’t make out what I was saying.

    It’s…almost never a bad thing to have one’s voice carry, and I’m not even sure how you’d go about making it carry *less*, but I think it has something to do with…if this makes any sense…where you get your air from? My drama teacher taught class this way, and I’m not sure it’s at all true…but she said that to get projection, you have to push the air from your diaphragm rather than just your lungs. And I suppose if you…stopped…doing that? Again, I’ve never thought of it as a *bad* thing, so I wouldn’t know.

  6. eloriane says:

    Alena, I definitely feel the same way.

    And Eng, you might be on to something in terms of the why. I didn’t have this problem until I started doing a lot of drama, debate, and public speaking. I guess I owe more than I thought to the director who taught me everything I know, haha!

    Actually, the more I think of it, the more that makes sense. My first play, after every single line he was telling me “louder!” but after a year or so projection was the one problem I didn’t have. Huh.

  7. HEY! says:

    HEYYY!!!! (lol) same with me. …I actually really never realized my loud talkativeness till this year (gr. 12) …in my classes I tend to talk loud …yea…and my friends…actually a certain friend reminds me of this constantly… hey maybe she’s jealous…hmm …never thought of that…I think I reached an epiphany~! lol but yea…i’ve always wondered whether or not people in my classes like listened to me when i’m talking and get annoyed …hmm ….idk…. who cares anyways… hey thats me….loud 4 life! =) out.

  8. Dawne says:

    Me, too. I’m never aware of it and people make me feel bad about my loud voice. However, there are some people who think my voice is joyous–like when I laugh, you can tell I really mean it! I’ve had sales reps tell me that they think I’m yelling at them, and when I tell them “no”, they I just have a loud voice, they still have a problem. At least we will always be heard—loud and clear!!

  9. Me says:

    Can I say a BIG THANK YOU TO YOU ALL… I have just come home from work. Feeling very self consious – a women at work, stopped me in mid conversation, from talking to a collegue and asked how tall I was. I answered 5ft why! “God what a big mouth you have for such a small person, where does all that hot air come from, she said” I was dumb struck when she walked away laughing.

    All the way home I have thought “How can I stop myself from being so loud”. So I came in and started searching on the internet for help to reduce my voice or even get control of my emotions, as my voice does get even louder with any emotions I’m experiencing at the time. However after reading all your comments I have come to the conclusion- that I am what I am and if people do not like it then that’s their problem… and why the hell should stop being ME!

    • Ash says:

      *ugly face* UGH!! WHAT A BITCH!! THAT IS SO RUDE!! *feels like punching that woman in the face!!* *thinks to self “how quickly I’ve bonded…”* lol! Seriously though, great comment! I would tell ya to tell her to fuck off but it looks like you already came to that conclusion 😉 awesome.

  10. America says:

    My boyfriend constantly tells me too keep it low… and like all of you I feel like dying whenever he does it…. I wish he’d just put his hand on my shoulder! Then, I would atleast have my dignity! But, no, he makes even those that aren’t aware of my “carrying” voice, aware… so terrble! I just giggle and keep on (if I can remember what I was talking about) but sometimes I can’t and it sucks cuz everyone notices… well, I guess its unfixable since I went online looking for a solution and all I could find was others with the same unsolvable problem…. maybe I will just change boyfriends 😀

  11. K says:

    well, I hear that as, “silence yourself, woman!” and I’m sure as hell not going along with that.

    It’s not about that though. It’s about being respectful to the people you’re talking with and the people around them. Yes, you’ve put a slant on the whole thing that makes it seem like they’re attacking you personally, but they’re not. I have a friend who talks so loudly when we are discussing private matters and sometimes it makes me not want to talk with her at all. For the most part I just leave it but sometimes she just yells and gets irritated when I tell her to keep it down. You always run the risk of people overhearing and interrupting, esp somewhere where you’re going to be seeing the same people again.

    I don’t know. I can understand where the other people are coming from because this issue stresses me out so much. Just be mindful of your surroundings and don’t feel like they are attacking you.

  12. Kerri says:

    I’ve been hearing that my whole life too. “Why are you yelling at me” or “your voice carries” or a very mean “well if you’d let me finish” or “Do you mind”. And as I get more passionate about a subject, good or bad, I unwittingly get louder. I have tried so hard to control my voice all my life to no avail. I am 54 years old and it still feels like a dagger in my heart every time I hear those words.

  13. William says:

    I teach Pre-K as of last year and Kindergarten the previous 5. They tell me I have a loud voice but moved me to the younger ones. Now the voice part is true, I love pre-K, but how do I make the change in my voice. Had hearing check with the school nurse is fine.. Do I need a voice coach? I do feel belittled by being told “I am loud and might be better with 6th grade.” Help!!!!!!

  14. TJ says:

    I am a loud talker. My real friends accept me, but unfortunately, my girlfriend does not, When I was born, the OBGYN told my mom that I had the lungs of a 12 year old…imagine me now! Any advice on how to handle the GF and her family?

  15. roxy says:

    yes yes yes that is just like me my freinds tell me a have such a loud voice and i hate it how can i be more quiter and gentler?

  16. Sandy says:

    i too have a loud voice, and for all of my 53 years have been told ‘shhh, you’re too loud”. The more passionate or excited I get, the louder I get. My feelings get so hurt when people tell me I am too loud- but honestly I really dont’ hear it. My hearing has been tested, it is fine, I just speak loudly, and quickly, and with passion!! I guess if I have been this way for this long, I’m not going to change now.

  17. Sherri says:

    Like so many have written before, it is tremendously comforting to realize I am NOT the only one with a voice issue. I, like all of you, talk with passion and vigor and I’m TERRIBLY sorry but God DID give me a larger set of vocal chords-why should I be to blame? I also tend to laugh easily as I am my no means a “Debbie-downer” but rather very fun-loving and light-hearted (a reason so many of my students love me). But my current office is situated in such a way that there are about 30 desks, all with very low-barriers separating each other and in a rather small room for the quantity. There are constantly people in and out, going between classes, people talking and sometimes interns coming in and wanting to talk to me and have conversations/ask questions. I tend to be very enthusiastic and yes, I admit I can be loud. If I am gently reminded then I will certainly be aware of my volume and adjust it accordingly. Contextually I tend to recognize when there is a situation where I need to be quiet, but in this atmosphere, having a coworker email my boss complaining about my volume and how “it distracts him from his work” seems entirely unfair. I’ve been told all my life to “quiet down” and every single time have felt as though I’m being attacked. I always try to rationalize with myself and think about how this is NOT an attack on me personally or my personality, but alas, I feel like I AM being attacked and have no control. Is there ANYBODY out there that would just accept me for who I am, loud and easily excited and HAPPY though I am? And if ANYONE has found a solution PLEASE SHARE!!!!

  18. STRESSED OUT! says:

    Ok so everyones got the same problem as I do.. and it sucks that there is no solution… Its stressing me out.. I try to have a conversation with my husband and I get “stop yelling at me” “stop being so aggressive” “why are you yelling”.. Seriously im sick of being told im yelling, the more someone tells me im yelling it makes me more and more upset.. Grr.. Im happy I was blessed with a voice.. but how do I control it???? 😦

  19. Ash says:

    *hugs you & mumbles “I don’t care if this is awkward, you made me feel better and you deserve this whether you like it or not”*

    JESUS CHRIST THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR FUCKING WRITING THIS!! IM ABOUT TO MASS FUCKING EMAIL *realizes she’s “talking loudly”* *sigh turns to growl!!* *not as loudly now* I’m about to email this to everyone I know so they can finally understand how they make me feel when they tell me to keep it down *nod* you’re awesome, it’s so nice knowing I’m not the only one!!

  20. Emma says:

    I am in the same boat with the rest of you, today my boss told me when you get excited it bubbles out of you and your voice gets loader. DAH that means I am passionate about what I am talking about.I will think about it everytime my boss is around from now on. I have been hushed all of my life and am sick of it. God made me this way, I don’t tell soft spoken people to speak up why do they feel they can tell me to hush?

  21. Debbie says:

    I have been crying for two days, because some person yelled at me at my job, and it was over my loud voice, basically making me feel like I am a bad person because I have such a loud voice. I have been too told this my whole life, and I do try to change, but talking in a different voice that does not come natural to me can be very hard to do. I once again feel like crap because of this curse. And I hate that people are aloud to tell you to keep it down. It feels like someone is telling me I am ugly, and I should do something about it.

  22. Rose says:

    Thank you!!! My family has been on my butt about this lately- it’s like their favorite thing to pick on. My sister has gone so far as to cry at the dinner table that I was giving her a migraine…we’re in our mid-twenties! It’s devastating to be in the middle of a conversation making (what I considered to be) an important point, only to have the subject abruptly change to a family discussion of the volume of my voice.

    I also have a theater background and it helped me overcome a tremendously difficult time in my life when I felt invisible and like I had no voice. How ironic that now it feels preferable that I go back to that person. I’m happy with who I am, I wish I had a response for when people shut me down, but I’m at a loss for words. 😦

  23. vivamus says:

    This blog is pretty much defunct, but years later I still have women chiming in all the time about their loud voices, and I just want to say:

    You are not the one with a problem.

    You can’t make your voice quieter. You just can’t, so stop trying! Instead, think for a minute – when people shush you is it because you are really so loud, or because you have started talking about something they don’t like? Do the loud-voiced men around you get shushed in public? When a man is loud, he is strong and commanding; when a woman is loud, she is obnoxious – is that fair?

    Nobody wants to be ‘that loud woman,’ but that is because ‘that loud woman’ is a stereotype created to make women quiet. You have the right to speak and have your voice heard.

    The next time someone shushes you, give them your coldest glare and say, “That was rude.” Then continue.

    Yes, it’s hard. You’re going to feel small and embarrassed. That’s because they shushed you in order to make you feel small and embarrassed. Fight them.

    You have the right to speak and have your voice heard..

  24. Kayeln says:

    Thank you all for this- It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone! All my life I’ve grown up with people telling me to be quiet and while I have tried very hard to adjust my volume, I honestly just don’t want to spend my entire day thinking about being quiet. I’m a passionate person and my volume does tend to increase when I’m talking about something I care about, and it just kills me every time someone interrupts me to tell me to be quiet.

    It’s a difficult situation – and this is why it drives me mad. I don’t want to be inconsiderate and hurt the ears of those around me, (thus the cringing I feel when people tell me to be quiet). And yet, it really isn’t something I feel I can control without thinking about it constantly, and it’s hard when you’re talking about something you feel very strongly about and someone tells you to “sush!” Also, the problem is that I recognize that my passions and emotions are the catalyst for my loudness, and as I attempt to accommodate others, I feel that I must suppress my feelings around them (so as to spare their eardrums). The problem is, I don’t see an immediate resolution- either people’s spirits will be crushed or people’s ears will be hurt. I wish that other people’s ears were a little less sensitive and my voice was a little less loud, then I could be loud without hurting anyone’s eardrums…

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