Learning to be quiet in a noisy world

“My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people"

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This originally appeared here on my Instagram which I’ve expanded below:

These days we live in a crazy, busy, hectic, noisy world, and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick of it. Learning to be quiet was no longer important to me. 

Can’t we just slow down? Stop and smell the metaphorical roses?

Ping. Ding. Buzz. Beep. Ping again.

It feels like every minute of every hour of every day; I’m bombarded with something online. And then, the final strike hit me when my phone had the grace to notify me that I was averaging 5 hours and 18 minutes of screen time daily. 

Oh my fucking god, don’t tell me that!

learning to be quiet

I suppose that was the beginning of a blinding epiphany. Learning to be quiet is something I’ve completely forgotten about.

How much time do I spend per day, aimlessly liking photos, watching cat video after cat video, drafting emails, getting calendar reminders, watching people watch me online?

Creepy and zombie-like doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I’ve always been reasonably good about disconnecting. Still, as I slowly slipped downhill into a deep depression and burnout over the past year AGAIN, I think my addiction to my phone began to consume me.

learning to be quiet

As every year went by, I realized I had become more and more uncomfortable with silence and reflection. I needed a distraction in the form of technology, entertainment for my brain 24/7.

I’d come home and put tv shows on; I’d check into a hotel and turn on a podcast. I listen to music every time I’m in the car. I get on a plane and read. I couldn’t just sit still and be quiet and be alone with my thoughts; I needed background noise to function.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that that stimulation 24/7 can’t be good for you. I was like that rat pushing the button for cheese until it died.

learning to be quiet

Somehow without realizing it, I’ve slipped into a person who had become uncomfortable with her thoughts. Considering I’m a massive introvert who usually loves to sit and stare at a wall and think, this is quite a personality shift!

It’s like I needed the comfort of technology to make me feel good. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

I wasn’t always this way, and it’s not where I want to be in the future.

learning to be quiet

I do my best thinking when I’m quiet and alone in a beautiful and comfortable space; for me, that’s when those creative, crazy ideas come, not when I’m busy.

But it’s easy to be busy; it’s hard to let your mind flourish.

In addition to this, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on my childhood, even dreaming about it regularly.

I have great nostalgia for when I was a kid; in the days before iPhones and laptops. Where we wrote on chalkboards at school, and I would daydream all day in the garden. Where you learned all your friend’s phone numbers by heart, and we talked in person. You know the days where you never canceled anything last minute because no one had cell phones, so you just had to show up.

I miss that time of my life.

learning to be quiet

When I think about my creativity in my teens and earlier twenties, it was monumental compared to what I feel now. Time stood still for me, and the days blended together, affording me all the time in the world to let my mind roam freely.

I dreamed and dreamed of travel, but now that I finally have achieved that dream, it’s like that part of me who was a dreamer has disappeared. Learning to be quiet was gone.

Nowadays, amid a burnout, I feel confined and caged, especially around my international trips. I have to do all my creative thinking before I get on a plane to Singapore in 11 days and 3 hours.

Somehow in my mind, travel and creative thinking are mutually exclusive. How did that happen?

I would suspect a total lack of boundaries on my end, as well as traveling way too much.

learning to be quiet

So I’ve slowly been working the past few months on becoming comfortable being quiet again, to sit and be alone with just me, myself and I, and NOT with the company of the entire internet.

This sounds so dumb to write out, but I needed to say it; I make myself do things without any background noise. Sometimes I cook dinner in silence. Now I wake up naturally in the morning and don’t reach for my phone for an hour.

I even turned off all the notifications on my phone (shivers!), and I log into my email only twice a day (instead of leaving it open and pinging all day and night). These little steps have already made a massive difference for me. I don’t have any international trips booked!

Yay boundaries and better work/life balance!

learning to be quiet

I’ve even started meditating (honestly, who am I?) I hope I don’t become one of those annoying preachy people telling you how to live your best life while showing off my seemingly perfect one.

Because it’s not, it never has been, and even trying to work on being quiet and reflecting is hard; but damn has it not been a good balm. I am already surprised by my thoughts and ideas in just a few short weeks of silence. I feel more precise and thoughtful with what I say, and I have slowed down quite a bit.

The downside is whenever I venture back into the real world with other people; everyone else seems so loud, fast, and in a hurry. Learning to be quiet is for everyone!

Here’s to doing sweet fuck all and staring out the window, just thinking! 

How do you slow down? Can you relate? How do you cope with a noisy world? Spill!

learning to be quiet

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14 Comments on “Learning to be quiet in a noisy world

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  1. Hi Liz, so inspired with your blog. Was hoping to place a link here, but changed my mind since I found your blog so true and genuine. Anyway, have a merry christmas!

  2. Are you me? Haha! Today I’ve taken the decision to do the same. Turned off notifications, logged out of social media, deactivated the blog and just… be. I’m aiming to reach your level of not reaching for my phone for 1 hour after I wake up. ‘Tis the season to eat my weight in food, tuning out and do sweet fuck all.
    Have a good Christmas Liz!

  3. I can relate to your words. We live in busy times and it’s hard to stop. However, I do a total detox from time to time to disconnect from electronics, internet, noise and just observe.

  4. Thinking time is so underrated. In many jobs you’re expected to look busy otherwise it’s seen as being lazy and not working. Yet it’s only with thinking time that you get the ideas that can make the job a better, more effective one. Over the years I’ve realised that looking at the sea makes me slow down and lose myself in my thoughts. I live inland but make a really conscious to spend my summers in places like the Scottish islands so I’m surrounded by sea. There’s often no phone (or even radio) signal and I can just sit and stare at the sea. Sometimes hours can go by and when I come to I’ve realised I’ve solved loads of problems and had a tonne of good ideas. Walking in the mountains is another good way, but it’s looking at the sea that’s best for me.

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