In Shanté’s Shoes: Owning My Voice

Name: Shanté Grossett

Hometown: Caribbean/New York City

Where do you live?  Westchester, NY (Greater New York City area)

What does it mean to have a voice?

I believe having a voice means simply having something to say. Our voice represents our personal story and unique perspective on life.

How did you find your voice?

I found my voice by spending time with God, journaling, and studying the Bible deeply. By giving myself space to process everything, I was able to heal.

What event or series of events led to you finding your voice?

Technically, I grew up in two different places. I lived in the Caribbean until I was eight and then moved to New York. If I remember correctly, it was a huge culture shock. Everything was unfamiliar and no one spoke like I did. I instantly wanted to fit in and become like everyone else around me. I quickly adopted the accent, learned the colloquial terms, and had a pretty good handle on what it was like to be a New Yorker but still struggled to fit in. It took over ten years for me to learn the value of embracing my true identity instead of striving to fit in. 

I was always pretty introverted and shy growing up. Honestly, I’d prefer working behind the scenes over being known and seen by others, but I learned that in order to share my voice, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be seen. I had to let go of one of my deepest fears for the sake of obedience to God and love for his people. I strongly believe that I have a message to share that no one else can. If I keep silent, that message won’t get to the people who need to hear it. So while I still feel a lot of fear when sharing my voice, I know it’s important to speak up for the sake of the people God is calling me to reach. 

Tell me about when you finally found your voice.

I started truly expressing my voice a few years ago. I was around 21 and at the lowest point in my life. How did I get there? By being a people pleaser and neglecting my true voice to fit the standards others set for me. I realized I couldn’t live that way anymore. It was draining me, and I was unhappy. 

I was a Fashion major in college and would often wear black and neutrals to class because everyone else did. I secretly loved bright colors and vibrant patterns but was too afraid of standing out. There was a guy I liked and hoped that he would feel the same way about me as I did about him. I took his unnecessary suggestions about how I should dress and act to heart. Accordingly, I conformed to my parent’s expectations of what it meant to be a true Christian. I didn’t have my own convictions about some of the things they said I should and shouldn’t do so I blindly followed. 

The other major driving force that prevented me from expressing my voice was a deep fear of rejection. I rarely did things because I wanted to. I did them so that I wouldn’t feel rejected. Funny enough, avoiding rejection led me straight into its arms. 

Around 21, I felt rejected, broken, and tired of being everything I wasn’t. I started reassessing my life and got to the root of what my true identity was. I spent time with God, journaled, and studied the Bible deeply. By giving myself space to process everything, I was able to heal. Slowly but surely, I started to own my voice and with it came more peace and joy than I’d ever known. 

How valuable is walking in other people’s shoes, or empathy?

You can’t control what other people choose to do or say about you, but you can control the way you react. One of my recurring prayers is that God would help me to really see people. We don’t often want to get into the details of other people’s lives because it can feel scary, messy, and even remind us of the painful details of our own lives. Yet if I allow myself to see people as they are and have compassion for them, I can love and serve them better. Which is why I write. I don’t do it because I want to become famous or make money, I do it because I recognize that there are people currently living in the spaces that I used to be in and I can use my words to help pull them out. 

How has your voice influenced others?

People often tell me that my writing inspires them to get closer to God. That’s amazing to me. Sometimes I write and I’m not sure if it’s really impacting anyone and then someone tells me about how it has. That’s definitely my goal. I don’t want to tell people how to live or impose my own personal opinions on them, I just want to open their eyes and encourage them to seek God more.

I am driven by a desire to know God deeply and teach others to do the same. I believe that God is the answer to the anguish and the voids in our hearts, and if we let Him in, He can redeem us. I don’t want to see anyone walking around as less than who He’s made them to be. I want to see people fulfilled and free in Christ.

Where will your voice lead next? 

I’d like to start traveling and seeing the world more. I don’t want to miss out on the beauty of God’s creation and the wonderful cultures I can experience by traveling. I would also like to stop working too much. I want to be able to create more efficient systems that allow me to get more done without working as much. It’s important for me to make space for rest in my life. I’m excited about how everything is coming together. For a long time, I had little clues about my purpose and identity, but I couldn’t really put them together. Now I feel confident that I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. 

I’m planning on bringing even more resources to the Her Style of Tea community and possibly offering some paid product in the near future!

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Audre Lorde once said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” Truer words have never been spoken. The Team behind Walking in Other People’s Shoes supports and stands in solidarity with the Black community. From George Floyd to Breonna Taylor to Atatiana Jefferson, and many more names. There have been far too many race-induced police brutalities for us to remain silent.

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