It’s okay to not know what to say

photo description: Zoe in Dad’s cowboy boots; a close up of Zoe holding a comb from the 1980’s that says ‘Brenda’. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot: how we feel the need to fill uncomfortable silence with chatter or how we are constantly searching for the right thing to say. I find my body moving in waves searching high and low for words that will fit the situation like Tetris. 

A lot of it has to do with feeling out of place in my own skin because I mostly live in my head with exhausting words and thoughts. It’s why I’m working hard on this ~inner peace~, on feeling a connection that can withstand my lows and survive my highs and hopefully, will meet me in the middle. 

I realized during all this that it’s okay to not know what to say when I meet a stranger, sometimes it’s better to listen and process. Even when talking to friends and hanging with my subjects during shoots, I am constantly met with this need to talk and entertain, forever making echoes of my previous sentences or changing my range and expressions. I leave feeling drained like I put on a show.  The more I talk, the more I go on, the more I feel words and moments becoming meaningless. 

This feeling applies to that need to constantly share what I’ve been creating, the need to outdo my previous photos when I don’t even know what that means or why it’s so important to me to have my work seen by others when I feel myself should be good enough.  

The other day as I was waiting for my take out, I opted out of scrolling my phone (my usual ritual of finding friends to text or looking at the Gram while I wait for my food and feel less alone, never really succeeding) and grabbed my journal instead. I got lost in writing and it felt GOOD. Good to be away from a screen and in this moment finding inspiration from the people, colors and movement around me. Truthfully it felt good to feel at ease in my body, in public. My nerves weren’t buzzing because my energy was going into the paper. 

I’ve been seeking moments like this while practicing a healthy balance of empathy. Sometimes I’m OVERLY empathetic where I am bending over backwards to help someone and end up hurting myself or I’m not empathetic enough like when I am impatiently waiting behind an older woman at Target trying to return an item or the line at the post office around Christmas. I tap my toes, huff and puff, start a battle of words in my head with all that aggression and eagerness, something we are all guilty of. Sometimes I pretend this is not me but I know it’s just as much “me” as the positive moments when I am kind and good. We need to accept ourselves in balance, it’s impossible for us to ever be one thing. 

On top of this, I’m practicing being calm and being a cool glass of water for people to come to and seek guidance in while keeping a healthy distance to keep myself sane. Being a source of light is extremely important to me and something I have always held dearly but that gets lost in my darker moments. 

My sleep has been off which is scary for anyone with a mood disorder and can act as a premonition of what’s ahead so it’s really important I step back right now but honestly, I think everyone needs to step back so I’m really looking forward to the holiday. Relaxing with my mom and the dogs while soaking up music, food and cinema will continue to help get my head right. The new year is a great time to reset the clock, reset ourselves and free whatever is holding us back or holding us down. People tend to hate on resolutions but hey, if it makes you better. 

One of my first resolutions I’m going to start on now as I take the next few days to reflect is to listen which goes hand in hand with patience and peace. Like the title of this post, it’s okay to not know what to say. 

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