I’ve always been soft spoken. Throughout the years, folks have frequently encouraged me to speak up, telling me they couldn’t hear my delicate little voice.

What makes this weird is that I grew up surrounded by the loudest people in the galaxy. When my dad, the late, great Burton Goff, whispered it sounded like a normal speaking voice. For reals. You could hear him whispering two rooms away.

Almost every day, my mom implored him and my siblings to quieten down. She would use the names of neighbors who lived a mile or so away to remind them that everyone didn’t need to know our business. When I was a wee lass, before I grasped an understanding of sarcasm, I’d say to myself, “Self, I know my family is loud, but those people down the road must have Bionic Woman hearing.”

By the way, it’s not just my immediate family. I’m not going to mention names, but if you know, you know. One of my cousins told me he’d discussed our family’s loudness with his dad, who attributed it to the fact that the men worked around heavy machinery. They had to talk loudly so others could hear them over the roar of the machines. My cousin then asked him why the women in the family were so loud.

He could also have asked about the younger generation. Again, I’m not going to mention names, but a year or so ago at a family gathering, as I walked inside the building, I told a cousin I heard her in the parking lot. She said something like, “Not you, too? Why does everyone say I’m loud?”

For what it’s worth, my nieces and great-nephew (emphasis on great) are soft-spoken. My great-niece (emphasis on great) is not. Her great-grandfather would be so proud of her for not being able to whisper.

Anyway, I bring this up because, of late, I’ve started to suspect that I am no longer soft-spoken. When my besties and I got together for a girls’ weekend, one of said friends admonished me for being loud. Me? Being loud?

I chalked that up to my excitement on hanging out with my besties. But since then, I have twice – once in a meeting and once in a restaurant – said to myself, “Self, who is that person talking so loudly?”

Both times, it’s been me.

I’m still not as loud as certain members of my immediate family – if you know, you know – but except during extenuating circumstances, no one has encouraged me to speak up in quite a while.

I guess they haven’t needed to do so. Or they have Bionic Woman hearing.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.