Solace in Silence

Taylor - Orlando, Florida
Entered on October 10, 2011
Age Group: Under 18

Many times in my life, I have been told derivatives of “Wow, you’re really quiet.” That has always struck me as an odd. What a useless comment to make. To me, it was akin walking up to someone and saying, “You have brown hair.” What a loon, they’d think.

What puzzled me was not the simple obviousness of the statement so much as the tone and implications of it. The tone of those statements was usually one of semi-pleasant surprise. Some, however, had a tinge of condescension – even pity – to it, as if I’m an injured puppy who needed to be cured from whatever was plaguing me, be it shyness or the inability to communicate like an average human being.

I believe in silence. Not in the awkward sort or the short interlude between words but in everything that it should entail: introspection, observation, self-awareness. That’s what silence is to me — stepping back from the hullabaloo and seeing what’s really there.

For the longest time, I thought there was something wrong with me. Combine general introversion with the awkwardness of middle school, and you have a recipe for cognitive dissonance. I set out to find a happy medium between doing what’s socially acceptable and being myself, as cliché as it is. In America, deviation from the norm is not encouraged or even considered acceptable. Where did I fit into the equation? Was I to be left forever in the pile of undesirables?

I resented my like to be alone, as if the forces of nature forbade me from functioning correctly. Don’t get me wrong. I did not wallow in my melancholy, cry myself to sleep nightly, or contemplate suicide. It was just an underlying emotion I felt on and off throughout middle school. Ironically, this debacle caused me to withdraw further into myself, internalizing everything that came my way. Then, after this, I overcompensated by being obnoxious and draining whatever energy I had, causing a period of self-loathing followed by further withdrawal. It was a vicious cycle.

However, like most things, I grew out of this stage and became more comfortable in my own skin. I realized that while not being the model of the perfect citizen – whatever that means – I was myself, and there was no need to change who I was to fit some arbitrary standard to impress people. I like my sanity far too much to give it up again.