What Silence Has Done For My Anxiety
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Politics and Activism

What Silence Has Done For My Anxiety

On learning to be okay with silence.

What Silence Has Done For My Anxiety
Helena Lopes

As someone with social anxiety, I have always felt uncomfortable with silence. It’s not that I dislike the lack of noise, rather every bit of silence feels like awkward silence to me. Silence is my enemy in the way that it followed me around like a lingering cold. It is my enemy because I do not know how to deal with it. My brain is a chain of questions toppling over each other like a domino effect, and silence is the initial push.

Do I try to break the silence and make conversation? But what could I even talk about? Would anything I decide to say not sound stupid? Am I forcing conversation on someone? Will that person hate me for forcing them to converse when they did not want to? Am I the one making it awkward or is this awkward for the other person too?

And that is only the beginning of my anxiety crazed questions. But, let’s say, for a moment that I do not break the silence, that I keep existing in the world of quiet-hood. This situation would be, as they say, a whole other can of worms. Is that person judging me for being bizarre? Are they silently forming an opinion on how weird my every action, every movement, every breath is? Are they picking apart my existence and deeming me unworthy? Am I supposed to be the one to break the silence, or am I supposed to just mind my own business?

So, as you can probably imagine, having to go through both of these hypothetical situations in my mind every time I hang out with anyone, I quickly get exhausted from social situations. I began to avoid interacting with anyone at all, choosing to find my refuge in books, homework, and writing. However, this is something that I eventually learned to be okay with. There wasn’t any real dramatic change in my life that caused a big revelation to help me cope with my train of thoughts. Through a combination of new friends, the freedom to control my own schedule, and gaining a better understanding of myself, I slowly began to realize that I had taught myself to be okay with silence. I had learned to acknowledge my anxiety about silence, and file it away as a sort of background function, something a little bit like breathing of which I could forget exists once it’s been going on for long enough if I don’t feed it and obsess over its implications.

In a way, my discomfort with silence came from a place of feeling too exposed in those moments. Silence brings out all my social insecurities and inadequacies. It allows my thoughts to roar a little too loudly, a little too much. Yet, silence is something that has allowed me to get to know both myself and my friends better. Silence has taught me how to exist, in the moment, without having to constantly be engaging with the world. Silence has taught me how to be comfortable being myself.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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