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Silence isn’t empty

| Monday, January 23, 2017

As an only child, I grew up taking quiet for granted. It was simply a part of my life. When I went to bed, our apartment went silent with the exception of my parents’ muffled mumbles and the low drone of the TV from the living room. On top of being an only child, I am an introvert. I was never much of a noise maker; my dog is oftentimes louder than I am when she hears someone in the hallway. I never had to lock myself away in my room to get work done because it was just as easy to concentrate in the kitchen.

I liked my quiet, my own little world. It allowed me the chance to think, to process everything that had happened over the course of a day. My quiet world at home shaped who I am and allowed me to be productive and to think clearly.

All this changed the moment I got to Notre Dame. Suddenly, I was surrounded by constant noise and chatter. Most of my friends are extroverts, so there is always a constant buzz of talkative people around me. There is always something to do or someone to talk to.

I was recently reminded of how much silence used to mean to me. I realized that since I arrived on campus, I have barely had a true moment of quiet, when, in the past, my life was made up of continuous quiet.

Quiet is not always a pleasant thing. It forces us to think, which might bring up things that we have been ignoring or have done our best to forget. But quiet is, without a doubt, a healthy thing. Aside from giving us a chance to recharge, it also gives us a chance to hear ourselves think and to acknowledge and deal with the things we having been trying our best not to.

As Notre Dame students, we all have so much going on in our lives, that it becomes difficult to take a few moments out of our days to simply be quiet. The benefit of silence is lost on us because the idea of sitting still is foreign to us. It seems ridiculous to do nothing for any period of time, because there are always so many other things we could or should be doing.

But, realistically, how much would you actually get done in those five minutes? Sure, maybe you could have gotten a few pages further in the reading you need to finish by tomorrow or written the first couple of sentences of the paper you need to write. But more likely, if you’re like I am, you would have opened and closed Snapchat three times, eaten something even though you weren’t hungry and then looked at what South has for dinner.

I think we all need to take the time, just a little bit of time, to simply be quiet and do nothing. Escape from the hustle and bustle. Leave the thoughts of having too much to do at the door and leave the constant chatter behind for a few minutes. Whether that quiet brings up good things, bad things or nothing at all, we will all be happier, both with ourselves and with each other.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a senior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident assistant in McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is currently serving as assistant managing editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

Contact Elizabeth