Conversations with Yourself
I put that little sentence together today, while driving home from Downtown in the sunny-then-rainy-then-sunny-then-su-oh-nevermind-rainy-again weather.
Then I muted my radio and began talking aloud.
I had done this countless times before, but usually only at night when people couldn’t look over into my car and wonder who I was talking to. But being that it’s been exactly one month since my last post, and a long time since my last oral conversation with myself, I decided to have a talk.
This all started a few years ago while I was driving and got so sick of the radio that I wanted to sing my own songs instead. I turned the radio off and started singing whatever song came to my head. It felt so good to just belt out whatever was within me that I did it repeatedly a few times after.
I got into the habit of driving without the radio on, but sometimes I didn’t want to sing (actually, certain days I just couldn’t hit the high notes). So I would speak instead. I would just talk to myself, out loud.
Growing up, I always heard my mother say things like “They just love the sound of their own voice,” about people who were very conceited and self-centered. I began to wonder if that was why I would have these repeated conversations with myself, did I love the sound of my own voice?
Or did I just need to talk?
Today, I needed to talk. I needed to let it out. I needed to speak without being judged, without hurting anyone’s feelings, and especially without any feedback. Some people have pets to do this kind of thing with, but me?
I’ve just got myself.
The conversation started off with what it’s been like to watch my mom fight cancer. Usually when I talk about this kind of thing I get teary eyed and lumpy throated, but today when I was speaking, it didn’t hurt to swallow. My eyes never welled up and I didn’t have to pause to collect myself. I could just speak.
I talked about the recent relationships that have formed in my life, as well as the ones that have dissolved. I spoke truthfully about how I feel, the mistakes I made, and what happens next.
I talked about school and work. Am I excited for September to come around again? I congratulated myself on getting a raise, and reminded myself to put the extra money away for after graduation, and trying not to focus on shoes, purses, and my new obsession with scarves.
I moved on to random topics. The conversation was evolving, and I could feel myself arriving at a deeper sense of peace. The more I spoke, the more things began to make sense. And the more able I was to put the pieces together.
I thought about how hard it had been for me to write this last month, and realized that it probably has something to do with the lack of reflection time I’ve given to myself recently.
To experience something and write about it is just to reiterate the experience itself. But to experience
something and recognize what this experience has done for you is to put it into context, understand, and appreciate what it means to you and for you.
Before my conversation could evolve any more, a very quiet and almost unrecognizable voice in my head, albeit, mine, said, “Why the silence?”
This is a hard thing for me to explain. It was also a hard thing for me to talk about, even with myself, and the longest pause hadn’t even saved me from answering the question.
I stopped at a red light, allowing myself a few seconds to gather my thoughts and address this issue, which admittedly, had been on my mind.
I thought about all the things that could have been the cause of this. I thought about what made me turn off the radio and begin speaking. I remembered saying “I’ve had enough”, referring to the music, and pressing the mute button.
I dug a little farther back, and thought about the last few times I wanted to say something but didn’t, and instead thought,
“Just bite your tongue.”
The sense of curiosity faded immediately, and I realized that I had picked up the terrible habit of doing just that.
I feel like I bit my tongue once, twice, maybe three times. And maybe my tongue was starting to bleed.
Maybe I hadn’t noticed the pressure of my teeth on my tongue because it didn’t hurt anymore, physically because I had gotten so used to the feeling. But it kept bleeding because I kept biting it, and now the blood was running down from the corners of my lips.
Metaphorically, the conversation I had with myself revealed to me that I need to stop biting my tongue, as well as how horrible of an idea it is to actually bite your tongue when trying to withhold words. Almost as horrible of an idea as withholding words, in my opinion.
But nothing is sillier than not saying what you need to say.
The fact of the matter is this. We know who we are. We know how we feel. And if we feel that way, why shouldn’t we, and why can’t we say it?
Why is it that saying something untrue is considered a bigger issue than not saying something that is?
I used to want to have all the answers to every question there would ever be in the world. But slowly, I’m realizing, perhaps it’s better to ask the questions.
Perhaps I want to see things, discuss things, and discover my soul’s greatest curiosities. Perhaps I want to dance in the mystery of wonderand add squiggly lines to all the periods and make them question marks instead.
But I wouldn’t have even known this if I didn’t allow myself to speak freely, without the duct tape of the innocent “shut up” from friends and family, and the deafening volumes of our loud society, and Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones.
Every once in a while, you need to check up on yourself. You need to sit down and have a talk with the inner you the same way a parent does with a teen, or one good friend to another. You need to compare where your head is, where your heart is, get them matched up, and move forward.
You need to give yourself a voice.
But even more so, you need to hear what that voice is saying, especially in times where no one else will.
If you open your mouth to speak, be it to yourself or to someone else, you must also open your ears to listen.
When I finally parked my car, I sent out three things I wish for into the universe, hoping that having them on my wish list would make me work harder at actually getting them. The first thing I wished for, I had no
control over. But I had hope, and sometimes that’s enough.
The second thing I wished for was a little more understanding. And I know that they say if you tell people what you wished for it won’t come true, but I’m telling you what I wished for because it already has.
Don’t be afraid to live your life differently. It’s not a crime to have conversations with yourself. In fact, Nelson Mandela wrote a book called "Conversations With Myself", and he's a pretty notable figure, right? It's also not a crime to seek a deep, genuine connection and to go about nurturing the relationship you have with yourself as if it were a garden that has to last all seasons, but might not.
Because that fear is the driving force behind why a majority of people are so out of tune with their inner desires that they wouldn’t recognize their greatest aspiration if it showed up on their doorstep tomorrow morning.
In all honesty, this garden that I’m watering here was full of weeds prior to today. Sure there were still some really pretty flowers underneath, but it just looked like a wave of dandelions.
And while dandelions are beautiful, they’re nothing compared to the tulips, roses, and daisies that come in after a good afternoon spent digging.
I hope you find your words, and I hope you find your voice. And I hope that when you do, you use it. I hope that you dig and you dig until all the words buried deep in the garden of your body and soul come to the surface like flowers in bloom and I hope that it’s beautiful.
That was the third wish. And like the first wish, I have no control over it. But I have hope, and sometimes that’s enough.