I noticed myself in the last year particularly feeling quiet. I found myself not wanting to be as talkative and social as I once was. When I am in social settings or talking with a group of people I am not super comfortable with, I find myself being more of an observer. Again, this is not in every situation, but I notice it happened more often than normal.
One instance that stands out clear as day for me was when I was walking back on one of the trails near campus last spring. I had my headphones in and was finishing walking the stretch on the trail before I had to walk a few blocks toward my apartment. There was a group of three young men on their bikes approaching me. I remember feeling a moment of quiet in my head, one that pulled me out of the zone I was in. I turned down the volume on my music just in case. And to no surprise, they began catcalling — asking how old I was, demanding my Snapchat and then they proceeded to yell and call me names. Throughout the entire interaction, I continued walking without a response, without a change in my demeanor. They biked away, and I carried on with my day.
Reflecting back on this moment I wouldn’t normally just let someone talk to me that way. Now stepping out of the scene, it would not have been smart for me to engage considering I was outnumbered, on a solo walk and didn’t have anything to defend myself had the situation escalated. Yet, even with those what-ifs, I never would have just accepted that behavior. I would have talked back and stood up for myself, so why didn’t I?
While I’m unsure why I made this choice, I know that I have been making a conscious effort to remove and cut people out of my life who are bad influences or do not bring any light into my life. I have been purposeful in removing myself from toxic friendships and avoiding individuals who are going down spiraling paths or exhibiting unhealthy behaviors. Making these conscious changes has given me so much peace within myself and with who I am surrounded by. And even if there are times I feel lonely or wish I had more people in my circle, I know that I’d rather have fewer friends that mean the world to me than ones who bring any form of negativity into my life.
Maybe that’s why I walked away without a word from the uncomfortable situation I talked about above. Maybe my efforts of removing negativity have led to my feelings of quietness and dissociation. I am continuing to mature and shifting into a new mindset with my friends and the people I associate with.
Even though the quietness can be off-putting at times, I have found there is a sense of comfort and calm in the quiet. Being at peace mentally and learning to grow with yourself is extremely important. Instead of hyper fixating on the way the “old” me would respond or feel, I am learning to embrace the way I am feeling in the present.
I love spending time alone. I also love spending time with my friends and family, but I realized this past year that you have to do what is best for you. Being alone doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the company of your own presence. It just means you have to appreciate your own presence and be comfortable with who you are and how you are feeling. I encourage you to take time to become comfortable with quietness. Whether those moments happen by yourself or around others, choose to embrace them.