Take Your Headphones Out And Be Present

Hash Milhan / flickr.com Hash Milhan / flickr.com

I love words — big ones, small ones, weird ones, contrary ones, hard-to-pronounce ones, and even ones I don’t know the meaning of (yet). I read. I write. I talk (a lot). I send epically long text messages (without emojis even). I scour song lyrics. I am a logophile.

The problem with this love, however, is that I have also developed a habit of hiding within the words. I can snuggle up with a book and a blanket and disappear for hours. I have fallen in love with countless characters, cried at their deaths, their disappointments, their failures, and celebrated their wins. I have even cried at reaching the end of a book — because even though you know it’s coming, it can still surprise you.

I’ve spent hours hunting down songs and finding lyrics that describe a feeling I’d been so certain no one else had ever felt before until I heard that one song that just…got it — whatever that “it” might have been at that moment (Matt Nathanson, in particular, just…gets it). It only takes one song, one string of words over a melody to make me feel significantly less alone. When I was younger, this meant hanging out by the radio or looking online very slowly, thank goodness Spotify and Google has sped up this process.

Of course, the problem with music — if I have to admit to one — is that I can hide in that too. I can leave the house, be in a crowd of people, and keep myself completely sealed off by putting on headphones. I can hide in my room for hours, getting lost in a story and an album (I like to do both at the same time and it’s, by far, one of my favorite things).

Despite my love, that will surely continue on, I have to admit that it has also caused problems. I have chosen words over other things so many times. I have chosen to stay in and read rather than go out and have my own adventures, disappointments and wins. I thought I had figured out a loophole to life but now I have to backtrack a bit.

Yet as I’ve started branching out, having my own little adventures, creating my own messes, and cleaning them up along the way, I have found other ways I use words as a shield. When I get nervous, when I like someone, I talk incessant nonsense. My filter that says “Hey, maybe don’t say that right now,” totally disappears and all of a sudden I’m sharing way too much. It’s an unconscious drive to maintain a connection while limiting my vulnerabilities (mainly because I’ve now placed them all out there).

It doesn’t work.

And so, I am carrying on with my love of words but I’m also writing my own story through my relationships and adventures and work. I’m going to choose going out more often than I usually do. I’m going to take out my headphones when I’m out alone and maybe actually engage in a conversation with another person (assuming there is another person out there who is also not wearing headphones). I’m going to learn to sit with the silences, to be vulnerable. I’m not going to hide.

I’m here… TC mark

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