I need quiet. I don’t mean “quiet time” in the sense of spending time with God. I need that, too, but what I’m talking about is different. What I mean is the kind of quiet most people seem to dread, the silence that you find in a classroom full of students in the middle of final exams. The silence you fear breaking when you push out your chair to turn in your test or accidentally drop your pencil on the ground.
That’s the quiet I need.
Silence is something a lot of people hate. Some people talk incessantly to cover up any lapses in conversation that might lead to silence. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “Silence speaks volumes,” you probably understand why people try to cover it up.
Silence scares people because it confronts them with their thoughts. A lot of people struggle with what goes through their brains, and they’d prefer to ignore it. I understand that because my mind can be an absolute mess sometimes. But I am the kind of person who simply needs quiet.
Here are a few facts about me you should know:
- If you ride with me in the car, I’ll turn off the radio so I can really focus on driving and talking to you.
- I prefer to spend my time with my friends in a quiet place so I can really be present.
- When I’m home alone, I rarely have the TV on or any kind of background noise going, even while the baby naps.
- I drive with the radio turned off. (Yes, I know you’re giving me side-eye right now.)
- I can sit in silence and just daydream, think about things going on in my life, or relax and much prefer that to sitting with background noise.
- Incidentally, I hate background noise.
You might not understand where I’m coming from here. Maybe you listen to music in the car all the time, have the TV on as background noise at home, and enjoy the office chatter at work. That’s fine, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I just don’t relate to that because I need quiet.
Today I want to share a few things you should know about people like me, people who need quiet.
What You Should Know About People Who Need Quiet
1 | Background noise drives us to distraction – literally!
I like to read and write, and those are some of my favorite hobbies and always have been. Normally I can focus fairly well when I’m writing and drown out distractions. However, I have my moments when the background noise becomes too distracting. I struggle to focus on what I’m doing, my thoughts become muddled, and I get frustrated. It’s the same when I have conversations with people. Sometimes I lose track of the conversation or my train of thought and find myself focusing instead on whatever background noise is going on. Then I forget what I was going to say and wind up feeling frustrated.
2 | Silence is not deafening to us.
I mentioned the quote “silence speaks volumes” earlier. Well, I need to clarify something: silence is not loud to me. Some people describe silence as this loud thing that makes them uncomfortable. For me, silence brings me peace and relief, especially if I’ve been out all day. I find myself craving quiet to simply release some of the stress and pent-up tension I normally carry. It allows me to just release the tension and relax my muscles instead of feeling like I have to stay wound up. I don’t know why this is, but it simply is how I’m wired.
3 | Quiet helps us organize our mind chatter.
It’s loud in my head! It’s probably loud in yours, too! But for me, background noise only adds to the chaotic voices in my head. It doesn’t allow me to focus on any one thing to try to figure out what I should be doing. I already feel like a browser with a dozen tabs open that I need to pare down. Background noise is the annoying pop-ups that refuse to go away and likely open up blaring advertisements when you try to close them.
You think I’m joking, but this is exactly how it feels when I have something on my mind that I want to work out. Background noise just pops up to demand my attention and I lose focus.
4 | We don’t have to have quiet all the time.
I need quiet, yes, but that doesn’t mean I need it 100% of the time. Sometimes if it’s been a long week with lots going on, I might need a little extra time to myself to recharge and unwind from the stress that builds up. Give me a little time to get myself sorted, and I’m more than happy to come back and be happy and chatty with you.
5 | When we become overstimulated, we get cranky.
I notice in Emmeric that he gets overstimulated in crowds after a while. He starts to fuss and then cries because he wants to get back to a calmer, quieter atmosphere. I feel his pain and understand it so well. For him, I know it’s simply that he’s learning to process different stimuli. I have no idea what it is for me, but I will admit to being cranky, grumpy, and sometimes even downright rage-y when I’m overstimulated. Background noise doesn’t just distract me. It irritates me. If I’m exposed to it too long, I become irrationally angry, usually directed at the person who’s turned on the noise. In this case, that usually ends up being my husband, and I try very hard not to take out my aggression on him when this happens because I realize it’s irrational. That said, I still feel the frustration and anger to the point that I want to scream or throw things.
You gave me side eye again, didn’t you?
I might be an unusual case, but when I say that I need quiet, it’s just a very honest look at the needs I have. They may not be rational, but it’s just a part of me that I accept and work to manage on a regular basis.
Let me give you an example…
Daniel likes to play video games. It’s his way to relaxing after a long day, and I have no problem with that. Yesterday he stayed home and played a video game he’s been working his way through for the last week or so. I stayed home as well and tried to figure out how I wanted to work on the blog in between Emmeric’s sleep and wake times.
As Daniel played his game, I grew more and more distracted. The music plays on repeat throughout the game, and if you have any experience with video games, you know how repetitive the music can be. Add to that the characters tend to have little catchphrases they use at different times during game play, and that gets stuck in my head, too. I find myself humming the songs and then get irritated because I can’t get them out of my brain.
I sat on the couch with my phone as Daniel played his game. The longer he played, the more tense I became. I felt my neck muscles tightening. I stretched a few times just trying to get relaxed and focused, but it didn’t work. Eventually I gave it up as a lost cause when I visualized myself throwing something at the TV.
Rather than resorting to violence, I went to the kitchen. The noise was deafened a bit there, but I could still hear the music. I sat for a bit and tried to pull myself together. Then I left the room, got my Bible, and headed for the bedroom because I knew I needed a grown-up time out.
Daniel came in at one point or another, and I talked to him about how I felt. It was good to be able to communicate my needs, even if he doesn’t really understand why I am the way I am. I think the key thing I took away from this is that I really need to be open about when I need quiet and how I’m going to take it.
I hope this has been helpful if you know someone who needs quiet. If you’re one of my friends, maybe you’ll understand me a little bit better now, too! Let me know in the comments if you’re the kind of person who needs quiet or likes background noise. And let’s all try to be more open and honest in communicating our needs because it’s important to share these needs with the people who love us!