On silence.

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I grew up with a lot of noise. My mother has a vivacious personality so I grew up with 500 of her closest friends, who were constantly clucking about one thing or the other. Her side of the family is also a tapestry of colorful personalities so even if nothing interesting was happening, it was just loud.

Fast forward to my teen years and I became my mother’s son. I was also talkative, lively, and cheerful. I can’t remember, but there was maybe a time when I couldn’t stop talking because I feared lulls in the conversation, as if pregnant pauses would give birth to awkwardness when left to idle for too long.

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Now, I work in public relations, an industry that thrives on noise. It makes sense given my chatty nature. I also moonlight as a writer for a website and a broadsheet, another industry that relies heavily on talk (in the printed and digitized form). In college, I took psychology, another field anchored on the gift of gab. So why is it that I’m beginning to suspect that I’m an introvert?

This is a strange thought, especially for someone who spends a lot of time socializing. Unusual for someone who loves making new friends and going out for a night of dancing in clubs, or at least having drinks with friends. My laugh and my voice are some of my distinguishing characteristics, which is a polite way of saying my curse.

Some time in my mid-twenties, I became tired of noise. There are times when I just want to hole up in my room and not speak to anyone for the rest of my life. Given the choice of hiding in my cave and drowning in an ocean of silence or interacting with humans, I would choose the former. Working in an industry where charm is almost required, I yearn for the thing that eludes me most: silence.

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During my company’s summer outing at Puerto Galera, I was enthralled by the beauty of nature. I had almost forgotten that summer when I went to Boracay, Galera, and Batangas and fell in love not with the party scene but the calming effects of being surrounded by the rolling waters, the azure sky, and the coconut trees that rustled between the gentle winds that smelled faintly of salt.

I had a lot of time to reflect on that trip and I realized how quickly I have changed. In the past, I was concerned with making friends and developing a following. I even religiously followed a certain group online, hoping I could be a part of their circle. Now, I am content with the simple life: nights-in by myself. My dream used to be fame (for what, I don’t know). Now, it’s to own a beachfront home so I can wake up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and the birds announcing the start of a new day. I would wake to a glorious sea, inviting me with its mystery. Now, I no longer need a glamorous career. I am happy doing a quiet job, like this lady who quit her high-paying job to live on an island and sell ice cream.

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I have since mellowed out. I am no longer the person I was before. I still socialize but I rarely talk about myself. I never go out on Fridays and Sundays. I am always around noise and people that I allot time where I can shun the world. One of my most memorable trips was flying to Hong Kong alone.

I think I have been introverted from the start. I grew up a shy kid. I never talked until I was spoken to. I didn’t like visiting my mom’s friends because it would mean waiting in a corner until she wanted to go home. I grew up an only child for 10 years and my parents traveled often. Until now, I don’t like being the center of attention. Talking in front of a large group makes me sick, which is ironic because I did marketing and spoke in front of hundreds of people.

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I believe I am introverted because I like being alone. I don’t feel the urge to go out and interact with people. I relish and anticipate days where I can have some me-time. I enjoy solitary activities. I have grown comfortable with silence. I may have overcome my shyness and my cackle can still fill an entire room, but that does not make me an extrovert.

If it sounds confusing to you, I get what you mean. But that’s the beauty of human nature. We are collections of things that don’t add up. We show qualities of polar opposites. It is the curation of these contradictions that makes being human wonderful. Maybe I’m ambiverted. I don’t know. I’ll think about that the next time I’m alone, without the noise of the world.


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