Oh no, it’s that pause in a conversation. It feels like a lifetime and bells are ringing in your head that say, “say something, anything, just any damn thing to end this awkward silence.”
As a twenty-something, this is exactly what I’ve done probably close to a thousand times by now. And then one day I noticed that silence is deemed as “awkward” in many social circles. It probably came as I channel surfed and saw that there is a show actually titled, “Awkward” that seems to be about this phenomena of labeling things as such.
It seems “awkward silence” permeated itself into popular culture and social media until it became unconsciously woven into the very fabric of everyday life. And, we actively try filling it with sound whether it is asking a question about the weather, blasting a favorite tune, or turning on the television just to have some background noise.
But about a year ago, I learned about the astounding beauty of silence.
I restlessly woke to find the blaring neon green glare from my digital clock reading 4:36am and let out an exhausted groan. It soon became clear to me that there was no way my body was going to let me fall asleep. So, I got up, dressed myself with a pair of athletic shorts, and sat at my family’s kitchen table.
I didn’t feel the need to turn the light on or to go on a run. I just had an urge to sit and look out the window. Darkness filled the horizon and I continued to stare into the void. But as I looked out it seemed that with each passing minute, light began to glow from the windows of various apartments in building across the way, indicating that others were rising from their slumber to start the daily grind.
I watched the silhouette of the building for a few minutes and then I turned my eyes east. What I saw was something magical. The deep lavender color of the sky signaled that the sun started to peak her rays into the atmosphere. And while I sat and watched, I noticed that all was completely silent. No car horns honking, no garbage trucks collecting, no house music blasting. More striking was the silence of my inner voice.
Some say this moment is spiritual, others say relaxing. Some say it’s “awkward” and others say “uncomfortable”. But, I completely dissolved into the silence of the world and overwhelmed with a sense of connection to all around me. In that moment came an epiphany: those moments that many of my generation like to term as “awkward” are some of the most beautiful moments of connection to others and the world in which we live.