I’m not one to be afraid of many things. I might worry about them excessively, sure. But when it comes down to it, the list of things that actually shake me is pretty short. Recently, however, I’ve been finding myself falling into really unhappy phases. I have mistaken it for sadness for a long time, before realising it was fear. I feared nothing.
I feared the lack of activity and progress that I independently judged was taking over my life, I feared that my past, present and hence future had too many empty and meaningless pages. All I needed to be lulled into this feeling was to have nothing to do, or to do nothing. Even after enjoying a few hours of Netflix and inhaling multitudes of junk food, I’d feel guilty and start questioning how I spend my time. While others relished having nothing to do, the very thought of it makes my stomach turn. A reoccurring conversation with one of my best friends consists of me complaining about having nothing to do and her replying by whining about wanting to hibernate for days on end.
I’ve come to realise that I found comfort in the noise. I grew up in a city where notification dings follow you everywhere, traffic so bad roads would look like a maze of parking lots were routine and in a world where masses of information no matter how small were shoved in your face daily. This meant having physical and mental noise present in every waking hour. And over the past 16 years, the noise has become a reassuring companion. One that shuts out worries lurking at the back of my mind and pushed away my responsibilities. It made it easier to go on scrolling mindlessly on my phone or to spend my days doing nothing productive.
But recently (I’m not sure whether I’ve become extremely tolerant of the noise that it no longer affects me or whether it’s died down somehow), I've felt the absence of my companion. And alongside, became painfully aware of the lack of meaning in my actions, of the small nothings that formed into a great sequence of nothing. Pleasures supposedly found in days off and relaxing became taunting, flashing signs reminding me of the pages being turned that were unfilled, left blank. Many have told me to make peace with the silence, dwell in it, relinquish it. But as hard as I’ve tried to stay in bed with my phone and convert oxygen into carbon dioxide, the fact that blank pages made me anxious and scared the crap out of me remained.
They say that one of life's greatest accomplishments is facing your fears. And while I still anticipate the day I can look at the empty chair the noise has left behind, prop my legs up on it and stretch out my arms, I have resorted to facing my fear of nothing with making my own noise. To replace the sound of traffic with my many thoughts and the notification dings with the voices of books and conversation. I’ve made my own noise - even better, I’ve made my own music.