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I’ve found, over the course of my eighteen year life, that the hardest questions to answer are often the shortest ones. The types of questions that make you fill in the blanks or read in between the lines. No one likes a vague prompt. No one wants to have to guess what the answer should be. For some reason the simplicity becomes intimidating and frightening. The simplicity makes us overthink — is there a double meaning we should be seeing? Is there a part of the question we’re not getting? Should we or can we even answer it truthfully?

Anyway, is it better to speak or to die?

I’m quite careful with my words. During serious one-on-one conversations with people, I tend to do this thing where I’m not lying, but I’m definitely avoiding the entire truth. Sometimes I regret it. Sometimes I can’t tell if I regret it or not. There are times when I realize I could have been completely honest, but the simplicity of questions makes the idea of full transparency terrifying. There are times when I fear I’ve said too much, when the simplicity of the question makes my answer seem over-complicated. It’s a constant debate in my head, and it comes back to this one question I heard years ago in a movie. 

Is it better to speak or to die?

This question is everywhere, when you really think about it. To speak or to die? To go out or to stay in? To eat in or order take out? Do you want Canyon Vista or Cafe V? Mac ’n cheese or chicken tenders? To speak or to die, it’s in every simple question that could ever be asked! To speak or to die, to tell the truth or to lie? To follow your head or your heart? To move states or to stay at home? To take the risk or remain comfortable? To kiss them or to pull away, to say what could be your last goodbye or leave it hanging in the air, to end things with them or not? 

Is it better to speak or to die!

It’s hard trying to figure out how to answer such simple questions. It’s hard trying to sort out all the thoughts that could be running through your head. Simple questions can make things messy. Simple questions leave so much room for overthinking. I never know what to say. They put you on the spot. They’re so forward that it stops you in your tracks. 

Is it better to speak or to die?

Let’s analyze this. If you speak, you’re being honest, and if always telling the truth is your thing then I guess this is the path you’d want to take. But if you speak, you’re being honest, and if you’re anything like me and honesty isn’t always the easiest thing, then this question makes you rethink things a little bit (or a lot). If you speak, that’s another weight off your chest, but if you speak then you might feel as though you’ve just burdened someone else. Speaking rather than dying can be freeing or can lead you to something better. But is it worth the risk? 

If you choose that it’s better to die rather than to speak, I really hope you know this question isn’t really asking you if you want to die, and that if you answered it with “die” because you want to die, that is a completely different issue and you should probably consider therapy. But if you chose “die” because you understand the metaphor, I’m going to guess that you’re a little bit like me. If you choose not to speak then you don’t have to worry about the consequences of your words. If you choose not to speak then you can escape the horrors that the question poses. You take the easier route in a way. You release yourself from burdening anyone. But is it worth the risk?

Is speaking worth the risk of them hating what you say? Is it worth the risk of you possibly having misread their question? Is it worth the risk of having said too much? Is it worth the risk of having not said enough? Is it worth the risk of completely putting yourself out there, opening yourself up entirely, handing them your words, your mind, your heart? Is speaking worth the risk of their silence?

Is dying worth the risk of them never knowing how you feel? Is it worth the risk of letting them pass you by? Is it worth the risk of coming off as cold and disinterested? Is it worth the risk of losing whatever you could have had with them? Is it worth the risk of all the possible regret, all the alternate realities where you didn’t hold back, all the endless possibilities that could have come from you choosing otherwise? Is dying worth the risk of what if? 

Is it better to speak or to die?

I run into this question a lot with myself. Recently I feel like this question has sort of been cornering me. I’ve been avoiding the confrontation it poses (I’ve been avoiding confrontation entirely, but specifically with this question). It’s everywhere. It’s in every question my friends ask me, it’s in every question I ask myself. To be frank, the reason that I am writing about this question is to attempt to get it out of my head. It’s my own little form of escaping the heaviness of the question. But regardless of what I do, I can’t seem to run far enough away from it. 

Ugh, is it better to speak or to die!

You know, maybe me running away from the question is what’s putting distance between me and the answer. Do I even want to know the answer? Is it just something that I’ll switch off between running away from and chasing for the rest of my life? Does the answer even matter? 

Is it better to speak or to die?

Does the answer even exist, or is it the journey we end up taking on our search for the truth that means the most? Maybe I won’t know until I decide to speak one day. Maybe I won’t know until the day I die. I guess that until then, I’ll just continue to ask:

To speak or to die?

Hi! I am a first year, Classical Studies major at UCSD! I love reading (mostly rom-com novels and classical fiction) and writing (mostly fiction and poetry). I am a diehard Taylor Swift fan and cat person!
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