By Jason Edwards

In high school, I was the passive quiet guy who didn’t really say anything. I did not complain about things, I just went with the flow.

It wasn’t until I became older I really found my voice. Amazingly, I was not always the angry guy readers know me as today.  College helped me learn to focus my voice. Knowing your voice is something you can’t learn in a textbook, it is something that must be discovered through your own actions.

Something just as important as finding your voice is learning how to focus it.

Simply put, your voice is what drives you to be who you are. This might come as a shock to you, but many of you might already know your voice but are having a difficult time hearing it. Looking back, even all the way to junior high school, I can clearly hear my voice.

Perhaps the best example is to explain my voice.  I love to tell stories. While that might not sound as fantastic as some of you had imagined, it is my passion.

It doesn’t matter how I tell the stories or even if anyone will hear them – I still have to tell them.  It can keep me up at night, let me work through exhaustion, clear my mind or allow me to relax. On the flipside, it can also mean if I don’t get it just right it can drive me crazy trying to perfect it. Story telling drives my every conscious and subconscious move.

In high school, I was into theater, art and loved playing video games. Later, I found a group of friends who were into building and designing haunted houses, and I did this for years. Between high school and college, I took some acting classes and did some community theater. I worked as a DJ at a local radio station in my hometown.

Then, after years of procrastination, I decided it was time for me to go to college. I went to an online digital-art school working on a degree in design layout and video game design.

Later, I went to work as a news reporter for a daily newspaper. I did all of this before I was 30. Then at 30, I received a very special gift that finally opened my ears – allowing me to hear myself for the first time.

The gift was, “Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.” And yes, the book was directly from the living legend himself. It was like everything I had ever done finally made sense. I would like to point out; it was not a mid-life crisis.

I am old but not that old.

So how does this help you find your voice, you’re asking. Well, I want you to stop and think for a moment about what makes you happy. In everything you do, in education, pleasure and financial gain, there is one underlying common thread. It might not be as simple to see as mine is, but I guarantee you it is there somewhere.

College is a great time and place to find your voice. It is also a great place to learn how your instructors found ways to focus their voice.

For me, it means studying broadcasting while focusing on film techniques.

When I write or talk, I may not use the English language 100 percent accurately, but I write how my voice sounds. Remember it is your voice and only you know how it should sound.  The most important rule to remember is, “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”