At first glance this topic may seem like a strange one to blog about, but if you stick with this I promise it will make sense! I am by nature a thinker and an observer, so I love watching people's habits and evaluating why they do what they do. I often get introspective as well, trying to see areas where I have a weakness and where I can improve. This leads to a lot of one-on-one conversations, podcasts to learn, reading, and of course writing.
One thing that all of us have noticed is the trend in recent years to be on our phone (or iPad) all. the. time. It is almost constant. In doctor's offices I sometimes count the number of people who are not surfing the internet while they wait. At stoplights I have noticed the reaction time to a green is a lot slower because the driver is checking a phone. Even with groups of friends or family, it is not uncommon for someone to have a device pulled up, texting or scrolling through whatever feed is most interesting at the present moment.
It's easy to both criticize or defend this behavior, but today I want to do neither. Instead, I want to talk about much of the reason why I sometimes tend to surf instead of just sitting. What I realized is that I am afraid of silence.
I didn't know this or feel the fear until after Joel passed away last year. When that happened I spent a few days mourning heavily, then realize I needed to fill the space a little in order to function as a normal human being. If I sat in silence all the time I would fall apart and not be able to pull myself back together. In the background of working I started listening to music, Netflix, podcasts, or anything to distract me. I checked my phone far more frequently so my mind was occupied. There were days when I shut everything off and just allowed myself to feel, but as therapeutic as that was I knew I couldn't do so every day and avoid staying in bed for hours.
While I think this was a healthy way to cope as I look back, what happened is that I developed a general fear of silence so I don't have to really think about what is going on. I started to become like many other people, checking my Instagram or Facebook page all the time just in case something happened. I subscribed to a dozen podcasts and kept movies and TV shows in the background while I edited.
The Honest Truth, though, is that silence is underrated. While none of these actions are inherently bad, they let me check out of the real world and enter into some distorted reality where I keep a clean social media feed and focus on the happy. Happiness and positivity are good, but so are introspection and deep thinking. If every time I get a spare minute I fill it doing something, I will never truly know myself or be able to think through what's going on in my life.
So in the last few months I have purposed to embrace silence. I intentionally put down my phone unless there's something I actually have to take care of. I'm practicing leaving emails unread for the night (though this one is hard). I limit my social media to two designated times per day, and logged off my accounts on my phone so I wasn't even tempted to check. I still listen to Friends or Gilmore Girls while I edit, but overall I am trying my best to embrace silence. It is healthy and good for the soul in a way that checking a phone never will be.
Friends, the Honest Truth is that none of us really wants to think deeply a lot of the time, and it's easier to fill our minds with things that ultimately don't matter. So today I'm challenging you to turn off the TV, shut down your phone, and allow yourself some silence. It will do your heart some good, I promise.
Read more from the series
The Honest Truth About…Adoption
The Honest Truth About…Creative Entrepreneurs
The Honest Truth About…Instagram
The Honest Truth About...Marriage
The Honest Truth About...My Travels
The Honest Truth About...Being an Ambivert