“Silence is Golden”, my 10 yr old read out loud from her English chapter on Idioms.
She asked me if the phrase meant that it would be peaceful to everyone’s ears if there was no noise. She even gave me an example of how we heave a sigh of relief every time we turn off a very particularly annoying and loud piece of music and the silence from it is sooooo… golden.
I laughed at her interpretation. Its not entirely wrong, though, I told her.
But the first thing that came to my mind, however, was a person. Me. A long time ago.
Silent because I was afraid to speak my mind. Afraid to say things that I might regret later. Also because I hated confrontations. Silent to avoid future awkwardness, especially towards people I would see a lot of, but was not very fond of. So rather than go through the awkwardness, I would choose to be silent. Became the doormat, so to speak.
But how is that golden? Whenever I am silent, the other person gets the upper hand, right? They’ll think I am always at fault simply because I don’t defend myself, won’t they?
I think it’s a sign of cowardice.
I have played conversations over and over in my mind thinking I could’ve said this or said that. But there wasn’t much use doing that because the moment to defend myself or someone else or something that I stood for had passed. And I kept thinking, next time, I’ll say what I have to say.
And one day I did.
Knees shaking, voice trembling, almost in tears, I finally spoke up. All the bottled up anger and rage threatened to explode out of me that day and it took all my energy and will-power to focus only on what was at hand. And it was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had.
Although it did take me a little more time to practice voicing out my thoughts and opinions after that, I have never looked back or shied away since. It has made me stronger and bolder. I didn’t need to fear anyone. Didn’t need to make people comfortable at the expense of my dignity and self-respect.
Of course, there are circumstances that warrant silence. But, otherwise, unless I wish to remain in someone’s good books forever, there is absolutely no reason for me to not speak up.
So this is what I explained to my 10 year old.
Silence is golden only if you can quiet your tongue in circumstances that call for it because sometimes, silence speaks when words can’t.
And the quote on the right 🙂