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waiting to speak?

Sharaai's picture

Looking back and rereading my initial essay, silence has since taken on a bigger definition, a wider range of activities and has also become a more comfortable topic for me. When I was writing my first essay, my thoughts of silence and being silenced all strung back to events of feeling silenced or silencing because it would be more convenient for others and me to not speak up. In my history of silence, it has been more convenient for me to stay silent because I felt I was wasting my breath and thoughts on attempts to comment on people’s comments. I don’t think I was trying to “correct them” but I guess I felt like it could sound like it. But with that, I didn’t feel like I was being listened to, I felt like they would be waiting for their turn to speak.

That initial essay and my thought process through all of it is proof that the idea of silence is changing for me, in a significant way. When I think about silence now, I don’t feel like I am always associating it with a negative silence. I’m not always linking it to moments where I felt silenced. Fueling this change of heart are the variety of conversations we have had as a whole group, on a more individual basis outside of the classroom and the range of “silent” activities we have participated in. When in class, I feel that we are opening ourselves up to a range of topics. The ideas of privilege, culture, race, class, and many more have come up and feel like we are able to speak about them openly, even if some of us may be a little uncomfortable. When thinking about these topics in relation to myself, I feel that I know where I stand on them. But this assurance might be a problem for me. I need to be able to explore myself from all perspectives to allow myself to grow and learn from my peers. This is something I have tried to keep in mind while walking in and out of the variety of 360 courses.

“People don’t listen, they just wait for their turn to talk.” -Chuck Palahniuk 

For me, this is the moment where the above quote comes into play. It has been mentioned many of times in our cluster of courses that we can actively listen but we can also be listening with the intent of waiting for our turn to speak. I  am guility of this. I find that when I have a good anecdote or I completely agree/disagree with a comment made in class that I begin to think how I am going to express myself. I even myself completing other people’s sentences under my breath because I feel like I know what they are trying to say, and this is completely wrong for me to just assume. This links back to being  confortable with my position in the class and in general, in my life. I think to myself “Oh! I have been through the same thing, I know exactly what they are going to say about it!” or even the formation of a rebuttal. Because for one, I cannot assume that those with similar stories to mine are coming from the same place and two, I need to finish listening to someone’s thoughts before I begin to form my own. When it comes to silence outside of our designated classroom, I have myself more comfortable around occupied silence. I am beginning to feel ok with the idea of being silent with someone else, with the idea that two people don’t always have to be communicated.

The idea of actively listening is something I have to work on in the classroom, and I will probably always have to work on. When it comes to being in the classroom, staying silent can feel binding at times. I do feel like I am not participating enough and that I need to speak up more. But then with that comes the fear or over talking and forgetting to listen to my peers. A fear that my lack of silence is over empowering someone else. Or that my lack of active listening is pushing other amazing ideas out the window because I’m so focused on finding and configuring my thoughts. So I take the above quote and I choose to use it as a reminder. That even if we act to be listening by being silent, that we need not forget the other person. That we should be waiting to speak but listening to understand and digest.