A Day of Silence
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I like to talk. A lot. So when someone suggested I try being silent for an entire day, I wasn’t sure how well I would do.
Sure, there are days I spend lying in bed doing homework, i.e. watching Netflix, when I don’t talk to anyone — but that’s because nobody is around, not because I’m deliberately staying quiet.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely silent the whole day. My first slip-up was when I woke up; I forgot that I was supposed to be silent and instead said hello to my roommate.
I’m not counting the second time as a mistake. I was in class, making a disgusted face, when my professor asked us how we liked the play we were reading. She looked me right in the eyes and asked me directly what I thought, so I had to tell her how much I disliked the colonial leadership.
The third time was around 4 p.m. when my sister asked me if I was coming into the living room for the third time in 30 seconds. An exasperated “I’m coming” might have slipped out.
Other than that, I was silent the whole day. I did a lot of smiling and mouthing “thank you” at people who held doors for me.
Apparently, my charades skills are not up to par, because I often had trouble communicating with my roommates.
My silence allowed me to overhear other people’s conversations and jump into their reality for a moment. Not that I don’t pay attention when I am talking.
But by concentrating less on what I was about to say and more on what was being said around me, I was more aware of who those people were and what they were doing.
The girl who cut in front of me wasn’t just a rude person; she was crying on the phone to her mom about her recent breakup.
The guy next to me in class didn’t just have the coolest bomber jacket ever, he was fighting with his roommates over who cleaned the bathroom.
By listening instead of speaking, I got to see a more complete picture of who the people around me on a daily basis are. Everyone faces a struggle and listening to them made me more sympathetic.