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Are You Listening?

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A podcaster speaks into a microphone
Are you listening?

Hi, and welcome to this week's reflection post. This past week, our project was to create a podcast. One of the many things I love about being back in school is that it's providing me with an extra push to tackle some of the things on my ever-growing bucket list. The first week, it was creating this site and with it a more public presence in the digital world. This week, it was creating a podcast.


Starting a podcast is something that's been on my list for a while, but I've consistently put it off. I didn't have a good microphone. I bought one. I didn't have anything to say. I made a list of hundreds of topics. I didn't think anyone would listen. Numerous friends and colleagues have suggested I start one and even said they'd listen. Whatever excuse I came up with was quickly dashed or resolved. Yet, still, I hesitated.


Then the deadline of this week's assignment came along, and I couldn't hesitate any longer. Even so, I couldn't find the words to begin. I poured over my lists of topics, but nothing spoke to me. As I struggled to find my voice for this project, I spent a lot of time this week thinking about the voices we listen to, the ones we resist, and the ones that guide our paths.


The Voices We Choose

This week, I learned that younger generations consume far more podcasts than older generations (Shearer et al., 2023). Now, if you're like me and find the line between younger and older has blurred with each passing year and you're not sure which you're a part of, in this case younger includes anyone under 50.


A young girl looks at an older woman
Young and Old

I was surprised to learn the under 50 crowd enjoys podcasts. Most likely this is related to my own age, but I thought podcasts were an antiquated medium. Why would we willingly limit ourselves to audio when the tech to create videos is so easily within our grasp? As a child, my friends and I created tons of "podcasts" when we taped our conversations and attempts at comedy shows on cassette tapes we traded like baseball cards. Once we all grew up and technology gave us the tools to easily make and share movies, we exploded onto YouTube and the like with videos of everything we could think of to amuse ourselves and our friends. Stepping back to only audio feels a bit like throwing the computer away and reaching for a tape deck again.


But learning how eagerly younger generations consume podcasts, I realized this is a wonderful opportunity for sharing my ideas beyond my current circles. I also learned that younger generations struggle to form authentic connections (Jayson, 2019). Given that, I wonder if listening to a real conversation or train of thought does offer, at least passively, an experience of being in the conversation, and with it a feeling of deeper connection.


A lot of people I know that listen to podcasts enjoy that they can multitask. They listen to their favorite podcasts while doing other things. I tend to work better in silence, or with quiet ambient music or sounds. Talking, especially, makes me lose focus on whatever I'm doing. But I was challenged this week to consider the voices I do choose and the messages they share.


The Voices We Ignore

Thinking about the voices I choose to hear inevitably led me to consider the ones I reject and the ones, perhaps, I should ignore. For starters, that inner voice that tries to convince me I have nothing of value to say or that I'll fail before I start is sometimes the loudest and most obnoxious voice of all. She's rather convincing, too. It's been her voice that's delayed my efforts to start a podcast the most.


That same voice held me back from starting this site sooner. At every turn, when I consider creating or sharing anything with the world, that voice grows louder, and tries to drown out every thought except, "I'll fail and the world will reject me."


A woman speaks before a room full of people
Courage to Speak

Fear of rejection, shame, ridicule, etc., these are all expressions of self-doubt. They are sourced from thoughts that I'm not good enough, smart enough, capable enough. Thoughts that I am lacking and I'll be exposed. And even though I demonstrate the value I have to offer this world time and again, the voice returns.


But thankfully, out of necessity to complete my assignment, I was forced to ignore that voice this week. I've ignored her numerous times in the past without regret and I suspect this time will be no different. And though she will no doubt strike again the next time I want to try something new, and likely with a vengeance, she is forever silenced on the topic of whether I should start a podcast.


Our inner voices are something we have power over, even when it doesn't always feel that way. But what about those other voices? Even the kindest people in our lives can sometimes say the most defeating things unintentionally. Then, of course, there are the less than kind people that try to take the wind out of everyone else's sails. In a world where there are voices inside and out all shouting reasons for us to doubt ourselves, how do we ever accomplish anything?


I find that being highly selective about the voices around me makes a drastic difference in my overall mental health and confidence level. A verse in Proverbs says it best, "One who walks with wise people will be wise, But a companion of fools will suffer harm." (NASB, Proverbs 13:20).


It's a delicate balance, though. Just as I don't want to be discouraged from expressing myself and my ideas with the world, I don't want to become so impenetrable I won't hear legitimate concerns or warnings. I don't want to chase a dream to be a singer, only to discover at the audition that I'm tone deaf.


A singer emotes with grand hand gestures
Singing out

The Voices We Hope to Be

Inevitably, as I wrestled this week with my own insecurities, I thought about what kind of voice I wanted to be in this world. Who was I hoping to reach, and what was I hoping they'd get from listening to me? I knew I wanted to be a voice of inspiration and hope. I didn't want to fall into the trap of being a highlighter of pain points. There's plenty in the world that do that for us already. I wanted to focus on solutions and shift the perspective to something positive.


I found myself in prayer. Prayer is a very personal thing. If you're not religious or spiritual, it may seem like a form of meditation. For me, it's more like a therapy session. Only the therapist is not a fellow flawed human being. They have no bias. They love me purely. They want me to make the best decisions and they know my worth. They listen perfectly and hear not only the words from my lips, but also the ones in my heart I haven't figured out how to express.


A woman with head bowed and eyes closed prays
A session with God

I learned a long time ago, we can't listen and speak at the same time. So, when I pray, I don't consider it a real prayer unless there's some silence. It's just a voicemail from me to God, otherwise. The great thing about prayer is that it's the ultimate excuse to hush all voices. That inner voice? She gets no time in prayer. Those external naysayers? Not one peep. When I sit in silence with God, the only thing I hear is love.


So, I prayed. I first spelled it all out to God. I listed all my doubts and fears. Talked about my hopes and passions. Talked about the trouble I was having getting started. After I uttered it all, I stopped. I breathed. And I waited.


If you've listened or read through my blogs or any other things I've created, you're probably aware I'm a bit loquacious. I don't think in simple terms usually. I think in qualifiers and corner cases. I rarely respond to anything with a one word answer. As often happens when I sit in silence with God, a single word formed in the center of my thoughts. No qualifiers. No corner cases. No exceptions. No other thoughts. One word.


Faith.


Faith can calm seas and move mountains. Surely, it will carry me through this.


A lake at the base of a mountain range
Faith is all I need

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week, I was challenged to begin something I wanted to do, but hadn't found the confidence or courage to start. Through this week, I spent quite a bit of time considering the voices that influence what I do and how I feel. I thought about the power of my voice and what messages I want to share with the world.


As I write this post, I am reminded of a scene from the movie, Evan Almighty, in which God, played by Morgan Freeman, discusses how God responds to prayers.


"If one prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If one prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" (Shadyac, 2007).


I had prayed many times for the confidence and courage to start a podcast. God answered that prayer and gave me just the opportunity I needed, with its very own deadline and grade, to boot! I wonder which prayers will get answered next week.



References

Jayson, S. (2019, March 15). Loneliest generations: Millennials, Gen Z sometimes struggle to make connections. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/solutions/2019/03/15/millennials-gen-z-sometimes-struggle-loneliness/3143869002/


New American Standard Bible. (2020). BibleGateway.com. https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-American-Standard-Bible-NASB/ (Original work published 1971)


Shadyac, T. (Director). (2007). Evan Almighty [Film]. Universal Pictures.


Shearer, E., Liedke, J., Matsa, K. E., Lipka, M., & Jurkowitz, M. (2023, April 18). Podcast use among different age groups | Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2023/04/18/podcast-use-among-different-age-groups

 

All images contained within this post are courtesy of Media from Wix.


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4 comentarios


Mike_pasley
19 sept 2023

This is my insight of the year. Bravo!!!!!


"I learned a long time ago, we can't listen and speak at the same time. So, when I pray, I don't consider it a real prayer unless there's some silence. It's just a voicemail from me to God."


Truly powerful stuff !!!!

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Julie Stoltz
Julie Stoltz
19 sept 2023
Contestando a

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Blondie.crabtree
19 sept 2023

As always, insightful and interesting.

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Julie Stoltz
Julie Stoltz
19 sept 2023
Contestando a

Thanks!

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