Discovering Your Authentic Voice … Or Just Fitting In?

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When you’re ready to jettison the “Fit in and be accepted voice,” you only need one tool: the ability to drop into personal narrative. I’ll explain how once you see yourself on the page, you can no longer unsee.

“I tell myself I don’t know what I want. But that’s not true – I do know. I just don’t listen to that little voice.” So began a recent lunchtime conversation with a woman who has worked throughout India, Egypt, Serbia, and beyond thanks to her successful career in the Hospitality industry. Over salmon toast and beet and burrata salad at her current establishment just steps from the beach in Santa Monica, the topic turned from the mundane (yet under-discussed) topic of wrangling the ever-painful email inbox to the profound (yet under-discussed) topic of how to honor one’s authentic voice.

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Discovering and Standing in Your Authentic Voice

Her vulnerable comment resonated with me: trusting my internal voice hasn’t always been easy. When I left teaching to found Authentic Voice, I feared giving weight to my intuitive sense that, despite loving my career, it was time to take a risk – just as I had asked my students to do every day.  Honoring that voice meant revealing that I no longer care about fitting into others’ expectations of me. And showing up for the voice within created endless destabilizing questions from my colleagues: “How will you market yourself? Who will pay for it? What about health insurance?” 

At first I turned myself inside out trying to sound convincing in my responses. I droned on, my insecurities leading the way. After all, I didn’t have a business degree. Maybe they were right: I had been rash and irresponsible. But I knew one thing: my “fit in and be accepted voice” has only ever steered me wrong. So I followed the scaffolded process I’ve built over nearly 3 decades in the classroom: I wrote what needed to be written. 

When you’re ready to make the shift from your “fit in and be accepted” voice, and we all have one, to living your authentic voice, there’s one tool I can teach you that will work every time: meet yourself honestly on the page. It’s not journaling: “I did x, y, and z today” is a fine accountability measurement, but it won’t get you too far. I guide you to write from emotion, not intellect. I guide you to write your truth. All you need to do is muster up some trust. You’ll find your pen won’t stop moving as you mine the moments, memories, and experiences that have created your authentic voice. It’s a transformational journey. Once you see your authentic voice, you cannot unsee it. Fitting in just won’t be good enough anymore–not at home, and not at work. The truth is, it never was.

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Jennifer Dohr

Jennifer Dohr is an award-winning educator who left the classroom in 2022 to found Authentic Voice. Drawing on twenty-five years as a high school English teacher, she now guides adults on the journey of acknowledging their unique life experiences so that they can forge authentic relationships with the self and others. She is unconditionally committed to individual growth – personally and professionally – as each of us answers the question, “What’s my story?”

Jennifer facilitates an extraordinary experience and incorporates poetry into her work as the best way to access deeper levels of discourse and self-awareness. Jennifer has worked closely with students, faculty, and administrators at Harvard-Westlake Schoolwhere she was awarded the David Justin Rascoff Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, and The Archer School for Girls, where she curated her scaffolded journaling approach to supporting students through the process of writing about their lives. Some of Jennifer’s most touching stories from the classroom are featured in Time to Teach, Time to Reach: Expert Teachers Give Voice to the Power of Relational Teaching, by Nat DamonShe earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and creative writing from Allegheny College and a Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley College.

Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn, FacebookInstagram and at

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One Response

  1. This is one of the most outstanding experiences I have had in my professional career. Jennifer Dohr has a wonderful process to “mine your gems” and “find your voice.” If ever there was a time to trust the process, this is it. Authentic Voice delivers.

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