Mic ready. Pop filter ready. “Start recording” blinks the screen.
I gulp and press “Record.”
Of all the things I thought I would do in my life, hosting a podcast, even if a ‘mini’ one like the MyndStories Minis, was never on my mind. Although I was a teacher for about 3-4 years in my life, I never liked the sound of my voice. Or how my body looks. But that’s a story for my therapist for another day.
I never send audio messages because I feel I sound silly. I think I sound like someone caught in a trap with a terrible accent. So, hosting a podcast? NO.
And then there’s the other thing. I am also shy. I don’t do small talk well, although I think there’s a place for it – that simple joy of relating to each other without the complexities of having to have ‘deep conversations’ all the time. But here, I have to talk to strangers, asking them intimate details about their life, relationships, work, hope, and loneliness. AND I have to do this in 20-30 minutes.
Yet, when we were launching the MyndStories podcast, I thought of how I want to make India’s first mental health content platform more inclusive. The main podcast, which is hosted by a novice host too, speaks with celebrities, fitness professionals, therapists, business leaders, mindfulness experts, life coaches, and more. But I was curious to know about people who may not have a fancy title but lead just as amazing lives. What moves us? What are the inner dramas of our lives? What is our story?
And then I thought of this yawning gap, this whole reach of a pale horizon that is my life. So much behind me. And what’s ahead of me? I could crawl back into my shell, safe and cocooned – but I realize there’s not much fun in that. Can I put myself out there? Can I reshape that voice of mine by giving others a voice?
So, I said yes: I will host a segment of the podcast. In the first episode, ‘A little bit of this and that,’ I spoke with one of LifeWordsmith’s writers – Akanksha Misra. But I hadn’t ever spoken to her – I didn’t know how she sounded, and I didn’t know anything about her.
I was nervous. She was too. I didn’t have a script. I had no questions I had thought of beforehand. It was an unscripted conversation on life. I was moved by this woman’s story: living on her own as a freelance writer. She reminded me of myself when I was her age. I had that rush to see the world. To do things. (I still do) And to part the curtain of life a bit more, peering deeper and deeper into that vast open sky I felt was mine.
When we ended the podcast, I was sweating. A podcast isn’t over even then. You record intros. You record outros. A million takes. And here’s the thing:
I have to hear my voice each time. My inner critic roars. “Pathetic,” it screams. I don’t like my stuttering, smattering, faltering words. I seem to have no response on the show apart from saying “Wow,” a million times. Shorn, torn tendrils of the past come fluttering to my door. They tell me: Smitha, you sucked as a child. You were the “sodabuddi.” You were the one no one spoke to.
And I pause the audio. I pause the recording. I take a deep breath. I want to throw the mic. Forget this.
And I do Take 25 for the outros. Because you see, I can finally hear my voice.
And you are listening.
That makes me smile, and I send this note to you that you can do that one thing you didn’t think you would be doing; that shy person can give a TedTalk; that trembling kid can lead a startup; that unsure person can write a wow thesis. You have a voice. I am discovering mine. May you discover yours.
I send you all light – you know I have you in my thoughts, and my emails to you will come.