Tearing Down Walls
I’m not a particularly politically savvy individual. I’m generally a little bit late to the party when it comes to major world events, and anything that doesn’t have a “breaking news” status I’ll likely only hear about from my wife who, unlike me, listens to countless news and current events podcasts. I recognize the value and importance of being aware of what’s going on in the world around me, but I think it all just overwhelms me sometimes. I tend to be a big picture kind of guy, so it can be challenging for me to engage with all of the smaller pieces.
Despite my lack of worldly awareness, it hasn’t escaped my notice that much of the world has moved toward a more individualized or even isolated state. I know this is a hefty generalization, but I’m writing this from a home in southern Africa surrounded by a tall cinderblock wall topped with razor wire. In my own personal observations, I see people who are more concerned about safety, privacy, and protecting what’s theirs than ever before.
There is a lot of caution and fear in the world today. And that’s not completely without merit. In my lifetime I’ve witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the separation of families during the Trump administration’s attempts to build a wall along the US/Mexican border, and the current escalating war between Russia and Ukraine, just to name a few instances. On an individual level, I’ve been mugged at knifepoint while on a casual walk with my daughter and former foster son. The world can be a terrifying place, so I understand the desire to put up walls (metaphorical and literal), keep out anything unknown, and just try to exist under the radar.
The problem with that is it just exacerbates the issue. Violence begets more violence. Suspicion begets greater suspicion. Fear and isolation beget deeper fears and more entrenched isolation. Call me crazy, but I just don’t think that’s any way to live. At the end of the day, I think human beings need other human beings to not only thrive but actually survive. We’re not meant to be completely isolated creatures, shunning the rest of the world in favor or our own individualized little lives. Sure, there’s something to be said about introversion vs. extroversion—and that’s 100% valid—but it’s not good for anyone to be alone all the time.
This has been one of the unexpectedly beautiful perks of embarking on a journey into voiceover. In spite of being a largely remote industry nowadays, VO is not something one can do in isolation. Paradoxically, those of us who hide ourselves away in tiny recording booths and “talk to ourselves” for a living need to be some of the most outgoing, engaging, and relatable people there are. Not only do you need to put yourself out there in general to be successful—this is an arts/entertainment service industry, after all—you need to create and cultivate a network of relationships with clients, other talent, coaches, etc. to establish a lasting business. Even though we may be alone, speaking into a microphone during recording, we’re always talking to someone else, trying to connect and resonate with whoever will be hearing our message later on.
Being an introvert myself, going out of my way to engage with other people, particularly people I don’t know can be hard and exhausting. Voiceover gives me an avenue to practice doing that in a way that isn’t awkward or creepy. Not only have I gained a lot of new friends and colleagues in the past year or so, I have also been able to connect with people from all around the world. The very nature of being a voiceover artist is helping me to grow into a more connective human being and tear down the walls that have kept me separated from others.
I may never be profoundly stimulated by politics, current events, or the like, but I am becoming someone who is more connected with different kinds of people. There will always be scary things going on in the world, but that’s not an excuse to hide away and cut ourselves off. In fact, that’s all the more reason we need to stand with one another and recognize how many more similarities we have than differences. I’m so grateful the VO community is helping me to understand that in new ways and allowing me the opportunity to practice it each day.
What walls have you built up in your own life? Consider some ways you can begin dismantling them and opening yourself up to deeper connection with other people. It may seem like a daunting task, but at the end of the day, these people, this world, are all we have, and we need them to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. So, let’s go against the grain. Let’s tear down our walls. In a world in which it’s so easy to be alone, let’s choose to be together.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller