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I Ditched My Headphones for a Week, and Here’s What Happened

To me, headphones are the perfect way to relax for a minute, even in the middle of a hectic day. I get out of class, pop my headphones in and don’t take them out until I arrive at my next location. Not only are they a perfect, much-needed distraction from a hectic day, they even provide me with a way to avoid people—my favorite thing to do! I can ignore solicitors, tune out Becky’s phone conversation about the Sigma Apple Pi date function this weekend and completely zone out for the time it takes me to get from one academic building to another.

So, as you can imagine, it was completely tragic when I forgot them on one of my busiest days of the week. I cursed myself as I walked, silently, to class, thinking that this day would drag on and on and on with no music or podcasts to distract myself from the world around me. But as I stood on the sidewalk, waiting for traffic to stop, I realized the people around me were having really interesting conversations. Not that I was eavesdropping, but I’ve always liked to overhear a snippet of people’s lives as they go about their day—talking on the phone, to a friend or to themselves. I found myself learning a lot about the girl who stood next to me’s relationship drama, and overheard a frat guy I would have immediately written off worrying about his grades. I decided to test this little social experiment, and see what I could learn if I left my headphones at home for a full week.

I knew this wouldn’t be easy, but as days went on I found myself missing my headphones less and less. I paid more attention to the world around me now that I was able to hear what was going on, and not having my latest Daily Mix blasting in my ears. I found that I really enjoyed having some time solely to myself between classes—some time to think, reflect and meditate on the day ahead as I walked, instead of distracting myself with music or podcasts to pass the time. 

Interestingly enough, I found I was more focused on homework when I sat down to do it sans headphones (something I genuinely thought I would never say). I managed to knock out more than I would have expected in a few hours without my headphones than I ever had with headphones in. I found I looked at my phone less, because I didn’t get distracted when I went to change a song and ended up in the Instagram explore page spiral. 

I discovered that I didn’t need to distract myself or always have headphones in like I thought I would need to—I actually enjoyed being able to hear other people’s conversations and get a small peek into their lives. What I thought I absolutely needed my headphones for—waking up on my trek to early morning classes—proved to be another thing I could accomplish without music constantly ringing in my ears; and waking up proved more enjoyable when I could focus wholly on the morning air and the day ahead.

All in all, I think this week-long experiment proved to have many more benefits than I had thought it could have. I can’t say I didn’t miss my headphones, and am glad to be reunited with them, but I don’t think I’m nearly as reliant on them as I was before I started this experiment. 

Photo Credits: Cover1, 2, 3

Emily is a part-time coffee addict and a full-time English and Public Relations student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She enjoys all things punny, intersectional feminism, Chrissy Teigen's tweets and considers herself a bagel & schmear connoisseur. You can probably find her either listening to the Hamilton soundtrack or binge watching The Office for the thousandth time
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