I spent this week challenging myself to not use headphones. Headphones can make you secluded from the world so I thought I would free myself from that seclusion to open myself to the world around me. Instead of being focused on my little world I wanted to embrace others.
I am going to be honest with you… I didn’t do all I said I would in my post, but I did learn a lot so I’m calling it a success. Here’s what I’ve learned….
When I pushed myself to break the silence I found myself genuinely more cheery.
The easiest time for me to speak up turned out to be in the elevator. At first I didn’t know what to say and I felt a bit insecure, but then I loosened up and started with small topics. I started out with just a simple hello or the typical “How about this weather” comment. A couple times I would compliment someone on their outfit. I truly did like what they were wearing, I wasn’t just looking for an excuse to say something. It was nice to break the silence and make the other person smile. Often a little comment would turn into a short little conversation and laughter. I realized after leaving the elevator that I was genuinely more cheery, which makes sense because instead of having a dull elevator ride I had added an innocent moment of joy for both me and the fellow elevator passenger. I left the elevator with a smile and I actually felt more energized. Happy people can get through a long day better than a day filled of solemn moments.
I noticed everyone around me looked miserable.
Waiting for the subway or riding into the city I was able to notice people more. There were so many people not purposely ignoring each other, only thinking about themselves and so many faces glued to their device. People just seemed cranky. The only people with smiles on their faces were those who were traveling and chatting together. I thought to myself, why does a subway have to be so standoffish?
I remember a few months back when a foreigner who had just moved to New York for business. He just struck up a conversation with me on the subway. I felt kind of uncomfortable because I wasn’t used to that type of behavior, but honestly it was really nice to have a real conversation with someone. I have another friend who randomly met someone on the bus and is now friends with her. We just went to her roof top party last week and met so many more people!
It was hard to break the silence and embrace others around me because that wasn’t the norm.
I found myself needing to give myself a pep talk before coming up with something to say. Especially on the subway… All I could really manage was a polite smile and trying to be conscious of people around me so I wasn’t in their way or bothering them. Sometimes when I did sputter out words they were too soft to hear.
It is kind of sad that its so hard to say something. Why does it have to be that way? We’re all just people. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could enjoy a light conversation with someone you just met? Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to meet people after college. Most people are stuck in their world doing what they need to get done, missing moments to connect with others.
Overall the week wasn’t as bad as I thought. I could actually hear my own thoughts and didn’t have as many songs stuck in my head all day. I think I’ll continue to use headphones less often. I don’t think I can totally rule them out, but there should be some moderation in my life. I think it will be good to be at peace with the silence and “courageous” to break the silence as well.
Will you take the challenge to put the headphones away? To be at peace with the silence and also be courageous enough to break it?