It’s 4 am as I’m sitting down to type this out. As my head is pounding and I can barely keep my eyes open, I ask myself why I never go to bed on time, finally fix my sleep cycle. I know it would drastically improve my mental and physical health, make me feel better about myself, and I’d finally have the energy to not have my brain turn into mush throughout the day.
If it were one of my friends asking me this question as they typically do, I’d give them my standard- “I can never manage to fall asleep on time” or “I’m just more productive in the middle of the night”, all while knowing perfectly well that none of that is even remotely true. To be honest, I don’t really know the answer myself. Is it because I find it too exhausting to get rid of an awful habit I’ve developed, or maybe because I find comfort in repetition and hate change of any kind?
I think the main reason I started staying up into the night was because I realised that during the hours of 1 and 5am my world is utterly quiet and I am completely alone. No one expects anything from me, I can stare at a blank wall for hours and no one would be around to judge me. There are no consequences to whatever I do with my time here, it’s like I’m completely separate from the world, vaguely suspended in time. In all honesty, I’m not ready to admit that it’s just my own judgement I’m seeking solace from. No one else’s. I perceive those twilight hours as extra, or an addition to the general time I have throughout the day. I don’t feel guilty spending that time on doing nothing and procrastinating, because my mind doesn’t see those hours as part of the time I can waste.
This relief probably indicates that silence brings me tranquillity I cherish, but then I wonder why something in me stops me from declaring that as the whole truth and concluding my piece here.
I’m tempted to just say it’s a hard habit to break out of and I’m simply too lazy to put in any effort towards fixing my sleep cycle, knowing that I’m not ready to accept the real reason behind it.
Because deep down, I know that right now when I shut my laptop, close my eyes, and try to sleep, I’ll have to be utterly alone with just my thoughts and nothing else. And just the idea of that sends literal shivers down my spine.
I’ll give you some context.
I’ve never understood the concept of comfortable silence. I just can’t lie down and relax without having something playing in the background, which is usually just something nonsensical and trashy that I know is terrible. I often joke to my friends about how I’m a professional multitasker because I’ll do anything and everything it takes to drown out my thoughts. I need to have music playing somewhere in the background, watching a video, texting someone, and scrolling through memes all at once to prevent a single coherent thought from occurring. It may sound ridiculous but I’m genuinely terrified to my core about being left alone with nothing except my thoughts, because I have no idea where they might lead me and I can’t fathom trusting myself enough to know that it won’t necessarily be a suffocating place. You know how they say sometimes love can smother you? I feel smothered by silence, which once was something that I loved with too much of my heart.
And so, I continue to torment myself with frustrating and sleepless nights, even though my original purpose of relief and comfort in silence isn’t met whatsoever. Just because I’m too afraid of the power my mind wields over me. The mere possibility of it tripping me into a rabbit hole that sends me spiralling into the darkest crevices of my soul that I would do anything to forget.
Working on all the incredible submissions we received for this issue did give me a lot of perspective on what silence could mean to different people who perceive things differently. It gives me hope that my ambivalent relationship with silence doesn’t always have to be this way. Who knows, maybe a day will come when I crave the escape of silence from the chaos of life. Maybe I’ll look back on this piece and finally be able to enjoy the serenity of silence.
Signing off with love and hope,