It is 8:20 pm on the first of January of the year 2019. I welcomed the new year in silence. Today, I have not used my voice to speak to anyone. I was around family at midnight, and a few times throughout the day, but have not felt the desire to speak. I will not speak today.
I constantly think about silence and about choosing to be silent. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving up verbal speech for Lent. In the past I have attempted full silence on several occasions; but, have never maintained my silence longer than ten days. In other previous attempts, I had chosen to continue speaking to those I had previously spoken to, while communicating with all new individuals using gestures and writing. This is an easier first step towards full silence than suddenly stopping all verbal communication with everyone.
I remember refusing to speak in kindergarten and throughout early elementary school, a few times in high school, once in college, and a few more times since. Between kindergarten and now, in the last two decades, I have been gaining mastery of silence. With each passing experience of silence, I have learned how to be silent for longer periods of time, how to communicate without using my voice, how to have my needs met, and how to be more comfortable in silence and with myself.
I do not know why I initially gravitated towards silence. I do have many memories of being misunderstood, and memories of not being understood, by teachers, classmates, and strangers. I also have a few memories in which my speech was corrected, and I have memories of practicing speaking. I am certain that these events led me towards choosing silence; simultaneously, I believe that the desire to not speak existed before most of these events.
Keeping conversations flowing is difficult, especially when I do not desire to listen or engage in the conversation. Politely ending a conversation when not speaking, especially ending one with someone who is venting, is also difficult. Also, being silent while being surrounded by people who speak for the sake of speaking, or who only speak to fill the silence, can be frustrating. There are drawbacks to both speaking and choosing silence.
In this new year, I will practice making my speech more deliberate than it has been in the past. I want my words to be purposeful; not automatic. In order to become more deliberate and purposeful with my spoken language, in this new year, I will spend more time in, and with, silence than I have spent in previous years. Currently, I am unsure about when I will speak for the first time in 2019. I am predicting that it will likely be tomorrow at work; but, if I am able to communicate with a shake or nod of the head instead of using my voice, my first word(s) can be postponed.