Thursday, May 14, 2009
Silence is Golden
Americans are outspoken. It's part of our culture to open our mouths and say whatever we feel like, always, in every situation. Yadda yadda yadda. In some parts of the country, this value is so deeply inculturated that we believe if we do not speak, it's not healthy, or we're being sneaky, hiding behind our silence.
I've lived in the American south now for more than ten years, a place where belief in the value of keeping quiet is still intact. Slowly, over time, I've come to see that I don't always have to say everything I'm thinking. In fact, sometimes it's actually better to just keep my mouth closed. I would never have believed this, once upon a time.
Old habits are hard to kick; sometimes I blurt things out and then feel so stupid, or rude, or obnoxious. Or superfluous (word I learned in Miss Searcy's class). A very wise friend of mine believes it's good to think about what you hope to accomplish every time you speak. What is your motivation?
Clearly it will take a LOT of practice on my part to fully develop a new habit of saying less, thinking more about what I do say. And it's kind of excruciating to realize how often I speak with no motivation at all except to hear how witty I am, to entertain the listener. For heaven's sake. It's a big change of habit for me, but I'm working on it. Wish me luck!