I have been thinking about the nature of silence lately, especially the idea that to be heard we need to speak out loud. How often do we shout about the things that bother us? Yes, we need to speak out about injustice, but how often are injustices resolved simply because someone pointed it out? Our voices either get lost in the cacophony or they are used as a means to say that everyone was able to speak their mind. I believe in the power of communication; however, we cannot forget that silence is also a means of communication, and that there is a vast difference between remaining silent and being quiet.
Remaining silent is an action. Whether it is an act of defiance or submission, silence is deliberate and loud. Think of the anxiety that silence can provoke: a message that is deliberately not answered, a question that does not receive a response, an accusation that remains unchallenged. Silence makes us nervous and being nervous makes us angry. The act of remaining silent can then motivate further action. It can lead to more questions or it can stop an action from occurring. It can protect us when used wisely and it can harm us when used thoughtlessly. There is power in remaining silent when we make a well-reasoned choice to actively do so.
Being quiet, on the other hand, is reflective and passive. We may need time to think, so we pause for a moment to meditate on the answer. Being quiet simply means that we need time to remove ourselves from the noise, to step back for a moment before engaging, to be slow and thoughtful. Quiet is a state of being, a much needed pause in the noise of the day. By nature I am a quiet person; I enjoy moments of solitude when I can take a breath and recharge. I enjoy being in the company of those I love because I can be quiet and enjoy their presence without the pressure of having to say something.
There is a blurry line between being quiet and remaining silent, and I often see the confusion and anxiety that both can cause. I have been accused of remaining silent when all that I needed was a moment for reflection, and my perceived silence caused anxiety and anger. I have made others feel insecure when I pause to think about an answer and they assume that I am not answering for a reason. My quiet nature can be intimidating for some; others see it as a sign of weakness. However, I do not allow my quiet-ness to mean that I am voice-less. I speak up for what I believe in, and I communicate when I feel that I have been wronged. I am also quick to express my gratitude when I have benefitted from the generosity of others. Using my voice is my choice: I can speak out loud or I can speak by remaining silent.
While I have chosen to remain silent in the past few months, this action allowed me to see that I have also been very quiet. I needed time to think and reflect, to take a pause. It was necessary, but now I need to use my voice again, to find the balance between action and reflection. I may use my voice in silence, or I may use it in expression. However I choose to use my voice, I may. Hopefully, I will use it in a way that will allow me to be heard.