Can’t Stand Me
What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?
As a southerner I have lived out this question my whole life. Growing up in East Tennessee I didn’t think myself any different from anyone else. People around here sounded like I did, and my southern twang, was never spoke of. In fact, I didn’t even know I had a twang, until the summer I was 17.
I spent a week living in DC as part of a special program for high school students who had a weird obsession for politics and government. (I was a nerd). My roommate for the week was a fun, exciting gal from upstate New York. The moment she heard me talk she went berserk. She called home that first evening and had me talk to every member of her family so they could all relish in the fact that I made one syllable words into three syllables. While she thought the way I talked was cute and adorable, I suddenly became self conscious of the way I sounded.
In high school and college I competed in speech and debate competitions, speaking in front of hundreds of people at a time. At the end of every competition we always received the judges comments to look over and prepare for the next event. My freshman year of college I competed in an event in which my school was the only school represented from a Southern State. After I won my event and came back home I looked at what the judges wrote. I received one comment that read, “Work on your accent. Your Southern twang makes you sound dumber then I know you are.”
WHAT? Because I speak with a twang, I am no longer considered intelligent? I was so ashamed and humiliated at first. Was I less intelligent because I did not speak in the “PROPER” accent?
I fretted for about an hour, then I became enraged and downright angry. How dare someone question my worth and intelligence based on how I spoke! From that day forward, I embraced my Southern twang. I wasn’t about to let the ignorance, from someone who didn’t even know me, bring me down.
Yes, I am from the South. Yes, I call my mother Mama. Yes, I say “Y’all” and “ain’t”, and sometimes when I say the word “can’t” it rhymes with “ain’t”. Occasionally I may say something is purdy instead of pretty. And when I get riled up, I may sound like Granny off the Beverly Hillbillies. But I am also crazy smart and refined. I like classical music, Broadway musicals, Shakespeare, and reading the classics.
So in answer to your question, I relish in hearing myself from a recording. When I hear it, I hear my heritage, I hear a smart, intelligent woman, and I hear someone who refuses to be belittled because of the way she sounds.