Over the years I’ve learned the ability to listen is more of an art than a natural trait. Although humans are born with ears, not all of us are keen to hearing. We see it every day. At stores, lining its aisles and flashing the customers are electronics, designed to distract and to entertain the masses—nose-deep in screens instead of interacting in reality. We tune out the world because we are afraid.
I too bore this inability to listen for many years. In video games, in books, in movies, in shows, I delved deep into fantasy. I focused on utopias with happy endings to avoid the flaws I saw in myself and my reality. However, my tendency to ignore deprived me from participating in the simple joys life offers in nature, in family, in friends and in myself—life’s creation I labeled a nuisance, a mistake, a waste.
It was through my depression I learned to listen. I became a hindrance to happiness as I walked with a storm cloud tethered to me. No one wanted to know or to listen or to be there. I could only listen—to the breeze of others passing without batting an eye at my tears; to the crunch of the leaves as I wondered if I too withered in the fall; to my whispers of regret, disgust, hate. After a lifetime of plugged ears, listening was overwhelming. The devices collected dust, and my fantasies faded as I focused on the life I tuned out for too long. I pushed and pushed against the speakers turned on high, but with a helping hand, I learned to open up to the sounds.
It takes silence to hear. I let my tears build, I let my walls crumble, and I listened to me, to the world, to the issues I was afraid to fall under. Within me I understood there is the darkness of depression pervading my every wake, and with that came the lesson of preventing it from consuming me. It is a separate part, not all who I am. Within the world I understood that mental illness is stigmatized, that sex and ethnicity is discriminated, and that rape culture is growing as others blame victims for their experience—one I am a part of. With this came a passion to use my voice to reveal.
Last of all, I listened to my fear. Failure is like a chain that chokes my voice and my actions. Often I questioned: Will I fail as a writer? Will I fail in college? Will I fail at having worth, at loving someone? We ignore these questions with our distractions, because with those we never have to measure ourselves. When we fear we fall short, we are unable to confront the fact we are crumbling along with the health of this world.
But hear me now, listen. Listen to your desires, to your needs, to your inner conflicts because they unveil the person who will conquer with courage. The world is out there, listen to its nature around you and to its affairs affecting our aspects of life. Once you realize you exhibit a distaste to its current circumstances, do something about it or for it. Listen to the silence, and voice the issue with it. This, I Believe.