Over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of Thinking. Serious, grown-up thinking. I am 29 now, this is what we do.
I’ve been rereading this book because work feels overwhelming and my life underwhelming, which I think is a seriously bad combination. Every once in a while, everything goes spinny- like in Pirates when Jack Sparrow looks down at his compass and the arrow spins and spins. Spinny. It’s a technical term.
The book is good. It’s so good that I was actually a little crestfallen to get to the end- the way you feel at the end of a school year and it’s time to say good bye to that one, very special teacher. I feel a little renewed- the book is to thank, in part, but also my birthday claims a role. I like to think of my birthday as a true New Year’s day, a clean slate.
Of all the lessons I’ve absorbed from it, the biggest one is also, obviously, the hardest one. At least for me.
I have to learn to shut up.
Shutting up is not a new concept. No. My oldest sister perfected the habit of telling me I had a big mouth and to please, please shut it when I was a loud-mouthed, attention-hogging kid. It never failed to sting (I wanted so badly for her attention, the good kind of attention). It also did not work. I did not shut up.
I shut up for a while in high school because I was too busy trying to survive every day with my very fragile heart intact. Also, because I was acutely aware for the first time that no one was really listening. All of my biggest words, my longest sentences were on paper then- marble notebooks and letters to Kate, my first book.
I started speaking up in college again and, since then, you cannot shut me up. You can’t even try. Just when you thought the world was safe, when I was done with talking in class and on stage and in small groups gathered around beer and playing cards, when I graduated and had to find a real job, I found a BLOG- you lucky bastards, you. Talk, talk, talk. Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, blog, new blog, FOUR BLOGS, I am unstoppable, I will not stop talking ever. I have Thoughts. And Opinions. And you will hear every single one of them. If this were a Hyperbole post, the image you would see here is my giant mouth rolling down a hill, destroying every one and every thing in its path.
[Is anyone else finding it ironic that my resolution to shut the hell up is coming in the form of a massively long blog post? Yes? Ok, moving on.]
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been quietly observing myself from a distance. And I do not like what I see. No, sir. The Narcissist Union of America saw the footage and agrees that it’s time to face the music. In short, I need to shut up.
Stop giving you advice you didn’t ask for.
Stop saying things just so you hear my voice today.
Learn the difference between speaking up when it’s right and speaking up because I can.
I have to let go of this fear in my belly that I will continue to be the ignored, overlooked girl that I was at 16. That it’s my fault that people introduce themselves to me twice, while I remember them perfectly. That there is something about me, something remote and untouchable, that means I am destined to constantly be on the outside looking in.
I have to let that go. All of it. I have to move on.
It will be an every day fight, a constant string of reminders. And while some parts of it will be harder than others, feel almost impossible, this one thing I can resolve to do. I can shut up. Because regardless of whether or not you love me enough to overlook it, I can’t overlook it anymore. I don’t want to overlook it. I want to be better. More.
If I’m quieter from here on out, it’s because I’m trying to listen to you. And I’m trying to hear you. I’m fighting the urge to speak because I can, to remind you I’m in the room. I am wrestling the tic in my brain that wants you to know I’m right, that I’m strong and capable and on the right track, that I read that book, that I remember that person, that I cooked that thing, that I made that joke, that I bought that gift, that I am thoughtful and clever and wise. And on and on and on.
I still want you to love me, to be proud of me, to know me. But now, actions will have to do the job. Because I am finally shutting up.
Entry filed under: Random Bits.