Everyone likes music.
This might be news to you. You may have thought you were special for liking music but you’re not.
I thought I was special growing up because I “understood” music. I was that 8-year-old who preferred her classic rock CD collection to the radio and was partial to playing Mozart on her piano. I loved the classics and kept a finger on the pulse of 2000s pop and nu metal. I was recording my first album. But as it turned out, I wasn’t special because everyone else liked music too.
When I began running cross country in middle school, I desperately wanted an iPod so I could listen to music while I ran. All the cool kids had iPods with headphones and I wanted to bop around in my Nikes just like them.
I bought myself an iPod in eighth grade, complete with ear buds. No longer was I alone with my thoughts while I ran. I could finally listen to Glee: The Music, Volume 1 while jogging around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, my ear buds fell out of my ears whenever I moved faster than a brisk walk.
Back to me and my thoughts.
The more I ran without music, the more I liked it. Running was not about listening to music. In fact, I started thinking music distracted from my thoughts.
“Enough of these Glee covers! I am trying to process my emotions through inward self-dialogue!”
It was in the eighth grade I found out something important about myself and about everyone: quiet is a good thing.
I love to sing to myself, talk to myself, have music on, or watch TV. Most people like these things. Odds are, you are listening to music right now. (And if you are listening to a good song that you think I would like, drop the name of it in the comments below).
Sounds are everywhere. We listen to music in the car, in the store, in the coffee shop, at work, at baseball games, at the gym, at home, and as we walk. We even listen to music at concerts. If music isn’t on, there are usually TVs playing movies, shows, or games. We are constantly surrounded by noise. Even as I write this, I am listening to coffee shop music against my will.
Here is the truth: music distracts me. I think music will always distract me and I think it is a gift to know that music is a distraction.
I don’t know too many people like myself–distracted by music. My college peers were always listening to music as they studied. How did they do it?!? I lost all concentration and motivation if I was listening to music.
My inability to concentrate while listening to music ensures that 1) I would be an easily-defeated superhero and 2) I sit in silence a fair amount. I don’t fall asleep listening to music or watching TV nor do I go on runs while listening to music–it’s just me and my thoughts.
Sitting with your thoughts is difficult and I’ve come to learn not everyone can do it. I know many people who can’t fall asleep because their thoughts are too much for them to handle. They turn to music, movies, or shows to give them relief from themselves.
This is a dangerous game to play. Relying on distractions to keep from dealing with thoughts and anxieties is not healthy. Silence may be our greatest fear.
We are afraid of being alone with ourselves. When we are alone, we turn to our phones, our computers, our TVs. We turn to noise.
How often do you sit in silence?
How often do you purposely let your thoughts run?
Are you afraid of your thoughts?
It’s easy to shirk off our own selves. There is a plethora of distractions at our disposal and we lean on them like crutches. At some point, we all have to learn how to confront ourselves and our issues. If we don’t, we will crumble when we find out we can’t withstand the weight of our own troubles.
I don’t have the remedy for anxiety. I don’t know what you struggle with. But I do know too many people give up struggling and fill the void with noise. Keep struggling and struggle with purpose. Allow yourself to focus on your thoughts. Give yourself the platform of silence and see what happens.