“I hear a lot of people say that the fear of death and the fear of public speaking are two of the main fears in my generation, but I disagree. I think it’s the fear of silence. We refuse to turn off our phones, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence because on those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are. We fear silence like it’s an invisible monster, gnawing at us, ripping us open, and showing us our dissatisfaction. Silence is terrifying.” — Jefferson Bethke
The first time I read this passage in the introduction of a book I truly love, I was hooked already. I’m never been that exposed especially in a pile of text you never had the knack of reading before. Why? Because it explained the banal reality of us—the millennial generation.
They said, being a millennial, to be distinguished from the other generations like the X’s, Y’s, and Z’s is just a matter of choice. No age brackets, no sociological implications, just pure choice. Diving in this generation is just a matter of developing a coexisting function in the pool of fast and vigorous interconnected culture evolving from the nature of technology, sciences, and human ascension we cultivated throughout history.
Deep, right? Because being a millennial is not just about keeping updated in your social media accounts, hashtagging things on Twitter, maintaining an aesthetic Instagram profile, or listening to the most upbeat music of this generation—it’s about expressing oneself unique from other generations, that we have our own and we will celebrate the amazing things it offers. Sounds inviting, right? It’s the reason why we’re getting along with it.
But this millennial generation has its own catalyst why it was born. It wasn’t just because the world wanted a new age but this is a product of the culmination of all the minds this planet has seeded from its living experience.
It is the result of an unnerving dispute of one’s soul to achieve, maybe its organic greatness as one lives on this very soil the dinosaurs had walked on thousands of eons ago—now we are the hunters, the predators, the drivers of our own destiny. The controlling mechanisms are our fast-pacing environment and the methods our minds we’re sculpted in from the rocks of our own volitions.
But we’re afraid of something. We are still vulnerable in our cores. That the high and mighty appearance we show the world is just a façade of the battle we happen to have in ourselves—the demons we’re fighting inside to secure sanity in this insane world. We are afraid of “silence”. You may admit it or not, but millennial thinking has no definition for silence—because living a colorful life has nothing to offer for monochromatic lucidity, a black and white picture of our past humanity.
We are all trying hard, right? We are all trying to know ourselves. But every time we realize that self-identity is equal to self-worth, we can’t deny the fact that at this age, some of us consider themselves worthless. That we can’t even quantify ourselves to the value of the universe.
That’s why we created this dream-like living of virtual realities to connect in all the corners of the world, to share a piece of ourselves, to offer the things seen by our own eyes hoping to build a sense of definition in our existence. To us, remaining alive is to be heard, and nothing is wrong with it.
But until now, many of us are struggling in knowing thyself. We think we know our directions. We think. But, sometimes we contemplated it’s only what the others wanted for us to travel by, and not once in our mundane life felt the emancipation to choose—that not even ourselves can decide who we really are because everybody says you should be what we want you to become. Even God says the same sometimes. But we emerge from the gallows of our existential despair. We learn to express ourselves while respecting the morality imposed to us by the society, yet now we’re now changing constantly.
But, part of that change is forgetting what silence is. The state of nothingness, of being exposed without the make-ups we put in our faces to conceal the marks of our past. We failed to meditate anymore fearing these thoughts will just destroy the image we build in and out. We forgot the essence of Zen, the need for the mind to relax and transcend from the chaos of the lives we’re living in.
Many of us sleep and wake up with their phones and computers on hand, most are not reading books, some are not appreciating music anymore, and we value art as if it was bound only to be sold. All these things require silence. We may be expressing ourselves loudly, with the vibrant and colorful lifestyle but sometimes monochromes are as expressive as the way we live.
Why not take a plunge into silence for some time? Why not isolate ourselves from the loudness of the universe? Why not unplug ourselves to this fast-pacing world for a time? There’s nothing to lose, and maybe there’s more to discover in our individuality. It’s time to realize that being a millennial can be multi-hued, not just colorful but also with shades or blacks, whites, and grays.
We only wanted to be acknowledged without our veils, that at some part of our rollercoaster life, everyone accepts our eccentricity. That once in our lives we could have our self-worth in our most honest self-identity. That we shouldn’t be hiding. That we should embrace who we really are. We are millennial, yes we are. But we could be better individuals comprising the most populace of this Earth. We can choose so why not choose next time silence to include in our bucket list.
Expression is needed and is a goddamn right, but instead of turning our millennial thinking into a catastrophic problem, maybe let’s sit first, contemplate for the things we’re doing, and dive into silence until we isolate ourselves in this chaotic yet amazing universe of experiences.