This I Believe

Elizabeth - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 20, 2006

I believe in silence, in the power of wordless conversations.

Which is not to say that I don’t like to talk. I love to talk. Just ask anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in my presence. In part because I was, and at times still find myself to be, terrified of the judgement that I have come to connect with silence. In this way my unfiltered inner-dialogue has served as an awkward silence repellent throughout my life, instantaneously turning strangers into friends and friends into audience.

Once inside the doors of junior high, I became acutely aware of the fact that not looking like Malibu Barbie meant I actually had to possess an engaging personality. Luckily, a spotlight-hog from the start, this requirement didn’t exactly generate a dilemma. In a world of hierarchy and liploss, it was on the genuine novelty of my persona that I skated smoothly through the majority of my middle school years.

High school presented a somewhat overconfident me with a new predicament. Suddenly I was surrounded by students who appeared to be intensely more interesting than myself; and I got nervous. How was I going to make friends if I wasn’t unendingly entertaining? And how was I suppose remember to stay entertaining when I couldn’t even remember where my math room was? It seemed that somewhere between the negotiating the crowded hallways and scaling my mountains homework, all my amusing little quirks had evaporated, leaving me to feel faceless in the sea that is the student body. By the second month of my freshman year I was pretty sure that I was one of the dullest individuals ever to walk the halls of State High College Area High School.

All it took was three minutes to convince me otherwise.

I don’t remember the date, or the time, or the day of the week. But I do remember snow-damped hair and hot chocolate breath and silence. My two best friends and I laid sprawled across the laundry littered bedspread, having just rehashed the latest in Happy Valley drama. Done giving our two cents and with a consensually reached verdict, we lounged in silence. Gradually my speeding mind came to a standstill and I listened. What I heard in that silence taught me as much as any lecture or proverb I’ve ever heard. This was a conversation of acceptance, and breath, and closeness, and being. In all likelihood my friends are completely unaware of how effected I was by those three minutes, 180 seconds. Unaware of the fact that, for me, the stillness was confirmation of genuine friendship. These were not people I had to entertain. They didn’t need funny anecdotes or wacky observations because, as they taught me that afternoon, even without those things I am valuable human being. Who knew?

Please don’t think for a minute that this new discovery turned my volume down at all. Those funny anecdotes and wacky observations are a real part my makeup. The unique ways in which I express myself are not an act. Still, it’s liberating to know that I don’t have to have a witty tidbit at my fingertips 24/7 to be worthy of attention. My best friends had unknowingly taught me the invaluable lesson about difference between loving people for who they are, as opposed merely what say.

I believe in silence, in the power of wordless conversations.