This week’s weekly writing challenge is about silence. When I think of silence, I think about regret.
When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. I remember that when I was in middle school, the other kids in my class thought that I lacked the ability to speak. Seriously. This is not the joke. I was (and still am) obsessively preoccupied with saying the right thing. And I often felt angry towards the people around me for not accepting who I was and letting me into their circle of friends.
I also wrote a lot of poetry back then. This one in particular stands out:
An excerpt from this poem reads:
“I find as people pass me by,
I’m just that girl from the far outside,
The girl with no name…”
I’ve grown a lot since writing that poem, and the following poem is a response to my 13 year old self
When I was young, I thought
I was the girl from the “far outside.”
I thought I didn’t belong,
I thought I couldn’t belong.
I believed that I was different.
Nothing wrong with that, I suppose,
But I also thought everyone else was
Stuck in my box.
Determined to speak a different language,
I demanded that someone see me, hear me,
I wanted to belong,
but I wanted someone else to do the work.
I wanted “that girl” to pry the words from my lips,
I wanted “that boy” to tug the love from my heart.
Make ME feel beautiful
Make ME feel intelligent
Make ME feel important.
I wanted to be the reason for a smile,
but I didn’t understand that the way to grow a smile,
was to shine a light in someone else’s heart.
I didn’t know I could make an impact.
I didn’t appreciate that I could make a difference in someone else’s life
Just by being a friend.
I thought my silence was right.
I thought it was “their” fault for not seeing ME.
But I was wrong.
It was my fault for not seeing THEM.
Several months ago, while sitting at a coffee shop, an older gentleman placed this note beside me. I took a picture of it so as never to forget his kindness. It’s acts like this that I didn’t understand as a teen. I’m not entirely certain that I understand them now, but finally I understand the strength of character it takes to look outside ourselves and see another person’s light. It’s even more remarkable when we reach out and gently urge that light to shine a little brighter.
“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”