Silence is something I think about a lot. Usually while sitting in my apartment, listening to the little things, which aren’t silent at all – the hum of my appliances, students talking in the lounge outside my door, the ceiling fan clicking each time it turns. With this strange soundtrack as my backdrop, I often sit and think.
I didn’t talk a lot as a child. I was incredibly shy hardly speaking, even to close relatives. I began to break this silence at 16 when I enrolled at Perpich Center for Arts Education where I (ironically) studied voice. But, it’s not as though I went searching for my voice, it found me. During my time at Perpich, I sang my first solo, took creative writing and began journaling. I started speaking up and speaking out. I found ways to share my opinion with others even if it wasn’t popular.
I took my voice with me to college. At UVM I realized that my voice was appreciated and important. Professors and student affairs professionals guided me and I began to understand how to articulate my values. My voice and I have had ups and downs since then but we always come back to the place we began, silence.
In some contexts, silence is terrible. When it’s important to speak up for something, silence can equal death.
But at other times, silence has power.
In yoga class where I can quiet the stresses and noise of my daily life, silence has so much power. Yoga ends with the savasana, or “corpse pose,” where you quietly lie on your back, close your eyes, and breathe deep, a practice intended to rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit.
In relationships, there is something beautiful about silence. When a bond is so close between friends or family that I don’t have to say anything for my message to be received. But, silence in relationships can be painful. “Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart.” When others decide your silence is necessary it’s painful. The relationship goes ‘silent,’ your voice is lost.
How do you use that silence to rebuild and reclaim your voice? What are the sounds of silence? For me, lately, it’s sounded like mourning. It hurts – physically and emotionally. I’m trying to be patient and re-find my voice but I’m not sure how. How can I use this silence, which feels so destructive, to create? How can I work to listen to my voice even when it’s so quiet I can hardly hear it?
And so begins my journey to find my voice and myself. A better and whole me, respectful of myself along the way.