My story is one that is likely familiar to most introverts. I grew up as an intensely shy child who would have much rather been reading one of her many books than socializing. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was often made to feel like my quiet nature was a negative thing. I was constantly the victim of the remark, “You need to speak up, Leah!” I often felt devalued due to my introversion and, for a long time, struggled to find my own voice in a world where everyone else was constantly making noise.
Luckily, throughout those years, I discovered music as a way to communicate with others. This became my way of contributing some meaningful noise to the world! Soon after discovering music, I got involved in theater. Through being one of the “theater kids” in middle school and high school, I gained confidence and many close friends. Music became my refuge at this time as well. Whether I was writing my own songs or singing someone else’s, music allowed me to communicate my emotions and thoughts to others. In this way, music offered me the voice that I had been so desperately searching for during my childhood.
These difficult childhood experiences recently led me to seek out a career in music therapy. I’m now in graduate school and on my way to becoming a board-certified music therapist. Music therapy involves working with a wide range of populations in many different settings. No matter what the goal is, however, music serves as a refuge for the clients we work with and as a place for them to heal and to learn. Very often, music gives a voice to those who do not have one.
I knew that the career was perfect for me when I realized that I would be offering people the same thing that my music teacher offered me when I was younger. I now have the privilege of giving the gift of music and of connecting with people through the offering of that gift.
While training to be a therapist, I have learned to become a leader. However, I have also learned the importance of maintaining an empathetic presence. I believe that my introversion has been my greatest strength in maintaining this skill in the therapy setting. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that I would be thankful for my introversion, but through seeking out this new career, I am learning to love that part of me.
I hope to see a world where we further nurture, rather than reject, the “quiet” in everyone.