How Silence Makes Me Feel (And Other Digressions)

This is a response to one of the questions in a book titled ‘Writing Prompts for the Creative Scribe’. 

How does silence make you feel? When you’re alone? When you’re with other people?

Silence makes me feel unsettled. When I’m alone, I often retreat to my old ways of negative thinking and I start having bad thoughts about my life, unless I have a distraction. A dog, a song, an activity, a creative idea. Sometimes that still isn’t enough and after a little while I begin to wonder why I still exist. What are my reasons for living? Even when I list what and who I have in my life, it still sometimes doesn’t feel real. Like I’ve been living a lie for the past 24 years.

Silence when I’m with others is a lot more bearable. It’s difficult to allow those negative thoughts to overcome me in someone’s presence, especially if that person means a lot to me. In other’s company, I can reflect on my surroundings a lot more. I can occupy myself with what they look like, what they’re doing, what they might be thinking. This unfortunately means I am also riddled with anxiety if I don’t know my company-keepers entirely well. I judge others without meaning to. I really wish I wasn’t the sort of person that judges, but I am. I also assume that strangers do the same for me, when they’re most likely not judging at all. I should stop assuming, but it feels so natural to me.

I need to realise that I’m never truly encapsulated by silence. There’s always something to focus on – a small detail of sound, an essence of noise, a droplet of unprovoked nature in the air.  I try to describe what I hear to attempt to rid the negative thoughts in my head. But how long can I distract myself for?



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