On Wednesday, I met with my oldest friend, Lara for coffee. We met in Costa at Old Street, London. And before you ask, yes, we were loud.
The joy of seeing each other was great. As we chatted about the hilarious, old days, our voices became louder, our laughter thunderous. Our loud voices became obvious when a woman, caught my eyes, gave me “the look”, smiled and continued whatever she was doing.
“The look” the woman gave, was discreet and powerful. My fake and insecure self uses it on my children in public. Especially, when I want the people around to see them as classy and stylish and not judge them wrongly.
So, why do I speak so loudly?
To begin with, I am a typical Yoruba girl; most of us do not know how to speak quietly. My mother spoke at the top of her voice, so did my teachers at school. From a very young age, their speaking voices encouraged to speak boisterously to be heard. Also, growing up, in a family of six children, we all shouted to be heard.
But in England, a country of softly spoken people, My Yoruba self was shocked to the core. This beautiful Island, I now call home has taught me that talking or speaking loudly is no different from shouting. This lesson, I learnt hard and fast.
Have you ever tried howling your point down the phone when speaking to an overworked and exhausted Customer Service Agent in a call centre? Your call, cut off without warning. And I speak from bad experiences when I, in my Yoruba manner have howled down the phone at them. Nowadays, before starting my conversation with them, I ask for forgiveness for the loudness of my voice. Sometimes they understand, sometimes not.
I have considered having a voice coach to help but this solution is too costly. What I have, is a DAB radio. Every morning, I unfailingly and with hope, listen to the posh voices on BBC Radio 4 to help. Has this helped? It would be a good story if I said Yes. Knowledge of the world is what I have acquired but my voice remains flamboyantly loud when I am with my townsfolk, like Lara.
John, my loving and long-suffering husband has accepted me, my ways and my loud voice. We are opposites in the voice volume department. He is very softly spoken and I,always at full volume. The first time, he heard me having telephone chitchat with Lara; he thought, we were arguing but we were not. We are Yorubas and we speak loudly.
Writing this, may hopefully help me accept my voice. My lovely voice is not quiet and quiet is not her. My loud voice has spoken positively into lives, It brings joy and laughter to my family and friends. So, please, have compassion for me if you ever hear me in your local Costa with my townsfolk talking loudly. We are not speaking loudly to annoy you, We are Yorubas and that is how we speak.