I used to be really uncomfortable with silence, as an only child it only reinforced my loneliness and I simply could not understand why I was so unfortunate.
Making peace with silence has been an arduous task but I am finally seeing it as more of an ally than an enemy.
I’ve been reflecting lately on what it means to be connected, to have fellowship and a family especially outside of the confines of social media – which has an addictive quality for someone like me; quirky with hobbies that can be isolating outside of of the world in which they exist.
Twitter in particular has been an escape, a consistent and reliable friend over the years. It allows me to actively participate while simultaneously fading into the background – a gem that didn’t spotlight my social misgivings in the way that other platforms boldly highlighted so it was tough to come to a point in my personal work where I could acknowledge the dependency and endeavor to work about it.
This probably reads like the writing of someone who took a one year hiatus but it wasn’t that lengthy – in an attempt to be honest with myself, I set a goal that was manageable; seven days.
Seven days doesn’t seem like a long time but Twitter is my catch all for news, gaming culture, entertainment and everything in between – I found myself thinking back on what and how I could do the same, outside of the platform and everything kind of fell into place.
The first day was easy, I was ready to congratulate myself for the win until I remembered that it was 2017 and I was a black woman in the United States, being completely removed from the happenings of the world around me was a bit too dangerous to even think about so I started to explore. It was refreshing.
By the end of the seven days, I was anxious to get back only because I missed my group chats – not because I was closing and reopening the app, not unlike an addict since nothing could have possibly happened in the 3 seconds in between locking my phone and opening it again.
The most surprising takeaway was that I spent so much time online that I was neglecting my real life friendships that didn’t intersect with the hobbies and interests that are supported mostly online either via Twitter or Xbox Live; folks were shocked to hear from me, see me out when invited – and were open and honest about feeling like I was closed off to them because they weren’t online or into gaming – which was a huge wake up call.
Taking the break, allowed me to reflect on the importance of my support systems and my place in the ecosystem of my friendships and relationships in general. This was a significant breakthrough for me because, I can admittedly get caught up in my own thoughts and feelings and while I pride myself on always being accessible, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I was actually ::there:: for the folks that needed me, in the way that I thought I was.
Armed with a bit more self awareness, I’ve decided to give myself at least one day “off” a week and work my way up to taking a full week off every month.
I smiled more, read more and slept easier – I answered text messages and emails with little to no distractions other than shared laughter with friends while catching up.
I was thankful that my chats were there for me to get back to – I was honored to be missed, to be thought of and realized that in spending some time away, I actually got the validation I thought I could only get by being accessible and connected 24/7.
Now, the thought of silence or absence isn’t scary – I look forward to it.
This is my first post that is a part of the content creation challenge. Feel free to join me in an attempt to create and publish one form of multimedia content per week!