My New Year’s Resolution is to Shut Up.
My 2022 resolution was to eat slowly. I failed (woefully, if I might add). In my defence; I tried to relax while eating quite a few times throughout the year, but my need for speed continued to override my desire to savour. That’s okay though, it’s a lifelong struggle. Marathon not race, like the motivational speakers, tend to say. For the incoming year, however, my most pressing habit change is keeping quiet. Honestly, I need to shut up.
In the past few days, I have been taking stock of my life, trying to see how I can improve it and “Oluchukwu, you talk too much” keeps popping into my head. This isn’t one of those ‘moving in silence’ type of things. I am not Lil Wayne, and neither am I an annoying influencer on Twitter. But I do think that there’s a certain virtue in choosing listening and quiet over speech. And after deep introspection, I have come to the conclusion that for me, keeping quiet involves three things:
1: A heavily reduced social media presence.
This is an aspect of my life I have struggled with in the past 5/6 years. It’s so fucking ridiculous how attached I am to posting silly things and viewing silly things posted by a bunch of silly people on silly apps.
I was watching ‘Take Your Pills: Xanax’, a Netflix documentary on Xanax (duh!) and one expert was talking about how the growth of social media has led to increased anxiety on a large, I dare say global, scale. I agree wholeheartedly. Our thoughts are being broadcast to a very large audience and this hyper-visibility is bound to do a number on our mentals. Asides from being visible, we’re also exposed to a lot of things that can fry our brains. Like beautiful women, for example. No, please, stay with me for a second.
I don’t think the human mind was designed to see these many baddies at once. Asides obvious problems like body dysmorphia, there’s also the risk of desensitisation. Imagine not being moved when a hot babe passes you because that’s all you look at on TikTok — imagine not appreciating beauty — that’s a legitimate fear.
Early settlers had to travel several colonies to see historical baddies. Kings had to climb mountains and cross seas to other countries and fight wars for them. People were hearing stories of beauty, they didn’t see it in real-time. The ancient Romans just knew that somewhere in the Orient was a princess who looked like heaven. They didn’t see her, they just knew.
Even in Achebe’s Umuofia, the strong men were wrestling for beautiful maidens because they were scarce. Everybody knew who Ekwefi was. The term “village beauty” meant something. I wonder how different history would have been if Gengis Khan had TikTok. What if Paris of Troy had TikTok? These are the pertinent issues.
Okay, I might have digressed a bit, but I’m sure you get the point. I believe my social media use is a problem and I’m going to (read: try my best) reduce it significantly.
2: I need to stop being afraid of silence.
A feeling or emotion that I cannot relate to is ‘comfortable silence.’ What is that, please? Silence is as uncomfortable as sand in my socks. It’s uncertain, it’s scary. I have no lead or clue as to what the other person is thinking and it unsettles me.
So I blurt out random rubbish, or I start playing music out loud. Anything to un-quiet the situation. But silence is okay. It’s okay to exist in different worlds while sharing space.
3: I need to do the work.
Earlier in the year, I wrote about Akwaeke Emezi’s ‘Dear Senthuran’ and how it helped me understand what I need to do concerning the work. In my case, the work is writing and all the creative bags I am chasing. It can be something else for you, dear reader. Whatever your work is, you’ll need to sacrifice something to get it. For me, that is talking. Talking about your plans can be so feel-good and interesting — then you realize that you’ve been talking for a long time without actually doing anything. No matter how many times I tell myself that talking helps me arrange my thoughts and finetune and discover — putting my head down and just writing always wins. Again, this is a me thing, but if the shoe fits, wear it, please.
New year resolutions are so hard to keep up with, but trying is the very essence of humanity. From the beginning of time, all we’ve done is try. You win some, you lose some — all you can do is try. Hopefully, I shut up and do all the things I want to.
I hope you have a great year, dear reader. I hope you grow, I hope love surrounds your every step. I hope you achieve all you set out to do, and that you learn to guard your mind so the callousness of the world doesn’t take a hold of your heart. I hope your family is safe and in good health, and that even when the bad times come — because they will, we know that — I pray you find a way to navigate it without losing your soul and beauty. I hope you come out of everything head held high and a smile on that beautiful face of yours.
Have a wonderful New Year ❤️
P.S.: I am thinking of starting a newsletter about my random music musings. It’s such an important part of my life, and I honestly have so many thoughts I’d like to share with the world. But as someone who gets overwhelmed by too much content, I worry that I am contributing to the very thing I hate. So, I need to know if you’ll read it; because If you will, then it isn’t a waste right? Let me know x