Did you know that the average millennial’s attention span is less than that of a goldfish? Eight seconds – that is how long our generation can stay connected and engaged with any one thing.
Over the past month, I have sat at home while job searching. Actually, two, now that I stop and think about it. I have had nothing to do other than clean, cook, walk around the neighborhood, and by then, it’s only ten o'clock. I'm in a new city with few friends to go and hang out with. The days can’t go by fast enough. For the first few weeks, I felt the need to have music playing constantly, or at least have Friends playing on Netflix while I rearranged furniture for the fourth time. The silence was killing me, and I would have two-sided conversations with myself just so that I wouldn’t have to sit in it. Then something told me to lay off, to not make noise all of the time, to be okay with the quiet.
And something incredible happened.
In the past month, I have been writing more. I have been drawing more. I have been taking long walks & dreaming. Short stories have come out the recesses of my mind as I think, "Why have I never written this before?" I have written poems & songs, just because I felt the need to get the words out. I scribbled in my journal a few days ago, I feel creative juices flowing out of my fingertips, all of this energy to make and dream and do bursting at the seams of me. I am having ideas independent of Pinterest, taking pictures without feeling the need to post them somewhere. I have even sat in complete silence on the living room floor, finding stimulation wholly unnecessary to living fully.
It hit me that my generation is scared of silence. Scared of not having the constant stream of information overloading our brains. Most millennials cannot sit still for one minute without picking up their phone to scroll through something. We sit in traffic & look at Instagram. We pay to see a movie & watch stories on SnapChat instead. We always want to be hanging out, talking to people. We can’t stand to sit alone in a restaurant or coffee shop. Don’t even mention a Friday night at home, eating Ramen without a Stranger Things marathon.
But the silence brings creativity with it, and in a generation so bent on making a difference, you’d think we’d be more than willing to unplug for five minutes.
Do you know where Great American Literature came from? Cabins in the woods where old men with beards sat alone for months on end, talking to God & the birds & the sunset. Mozart once wrote to his father saying that "I immerse myself in music, so to speak — that I think about it all day long — that I like experimenting — studying — reflecting”. Notice he said nothing about playing music & letting that inspire him. He would sit & think about music, study it, reflect upon it.
You don’t get creative breakthrough scrolling through Instagram. You don’t discover & dream when you’re watching videos of cats. If you want to “be more creative”, stop looking at DIYs. They will only get you so far.
You've got to get still, and you've got to get silent.