2010 July 27 § 1 Comment

si·lence /ˈsaɪləns/


  1. absence of any sound or noise; stillness.
  2. the state or fact of being silent; muteness.
  3. absence or omission of mention, comment, or expressed concern: the conspicuous silence of our newspapers on local graft.
  4. the state of being forgotten; oblivion: in the news again after years of silence.
  5. concealment; secrecy.

When most people think of silence, they think of that blankness that comes with the absence of noise. A moment when the only sound you can hear is the sound of your heartbeat; the sound that is the absence, a curious absence in the ears that makes your thoughts louder than a shout in the room.

Sometimes it happens only for a moment.

Sometimes, it’s a state of mind that, barring normal, everday interactions, can last for more than a moment. Wandering through life as if in a daydream – interacting with others, and yet alone. Listening to voices, but with the distinct lack of the most important one.

The advice I give to most people when they have relationship problems, or communication problems, is to speak up. Make your voice heard; don’t let your thoughts be brushed aside. Don’t allow for the chance of misunderstanding; assumptions can be cruel in that they can manipulate you into believing what isn’t true. Assumption can fill in what you don’t know, and that usually makes for some interesting arguments.

“I thought you meant…”

“I didn’t know that you…”

By reasoning that I shouldn’t take sides, my stint as a leader has led me to be a better listener, but much more reluctant to impart my own views in a crowd of my own peers.  I got better at discerning the tension in the air after a few instances of warring viewpoints, but it’s a rare day when I’m willing to let others judge my opinions, my ideas, and my thoughts. For all that I claim to be confident in myself and my abilities, it’s still true that I lack a certain confidence in that which is significantly less substantial than a skill.

I’m a listener. I’m an observer. I don’t mind it – I like it, most of the time. I watch life happen all around me, and enjoy the show because I’m content to keep my own voice out of the fray.

Maybe that’s why it hurts that much more when I do say something, and feel like I’m being unfairly criticized or dismissed as irrelevant or unimportant. Whether I am being unfairly criticized is besides the point – and while most of the time, I’m happy to shrug it aside, there are times when I get tired of it.

Because my efforts are not seen, they are considered nonexistent.

Because I can’t find the words to express what I feel, I say nothing.

It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

Most of the time, I’m content to be a shadow. It’s okay if I’m not acknowledged and not recognized – I seek that kind of approval from no one but myself.

Compliments, flattery, or praise from others is nice, but who can tell empty words from sincerity? I’m an idealist, so I assume the words are genuine. But I’m not a fool. Even I can see when I’m being patronized and humored. It’s irritating to be assumed lacking in knowledge, simply because I don’t care to state the obvious.

Rather than being misunderstood, I would rather be silent.

Just sometimes, it’s lonely walking in silence. Because when I wish to be silent no longer, who will listen to what I have to say?


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