This I Believe: Finding the Quiet in Your Life
I am not a morning person. I am the definition of a night owl and yet I find myself waking up to the sound of my alarm ringing at 5 a.m. I reach over to stop the jarring sound and drag myself out of bed. Still half asleep, I go through the motions of my routine. After I mentally prepare myself for the day ahead of me (and wake myself up a little more), I slide into my car.
The drive is quiet; the roads are empty and all I hear is the sound of my music playing in the background. This moment of peace is one of the (few) benefits of waking up this early. There is a sense of serenity driving down empty roads, the sky still dark, not yet illuminated by the sun. I may be driving towards the ice rink, a place full of bright lights, sounds and expectations, but in these 20 short minutes, it is quiet.
I’ve always been called loud. My voice can be heard across rooms, through walls, permeating through the air. I laugh easily and talk even easier. Excitement causes my voice to have a mind of its own, words falling out of my mouth in quick succession. Even skating is dependent on sound, with my role being to perform according to my music. My life is defined by sound: When it's not filled with the sound of my own voice, it's filled with the sounds of others or music blasting through my headphones. It seems like there are rarely any moments of true silence in my life, but during this short 20-minute drive to the rink, my life quiets.
In an all-too-hectic world, it is often hard to justify taking a break. It feels out of place in such a fast-paced society. I’m often left feeling like the world is pushing me to match the constant movement it’s experiencing, allotting no time for silence or breaks, lest it leaves me behind.
But during these slow, early morning drives, I'm reminded to admire the beauty in the quiet and to enjoy the peace that comes with stillness. And while it may be my still half-asleep self talking, in these early mornings I am no longer burdened by the stresses and fears that normally weigh me down. I find myself simply existing in the world.
My friends will think it's ironic that I am writing an essay about quiet when I am so rarely it, but quiet isn't necessarily just the absence of sound. Quiet is the calm right before my music starts at competitions. It's the world turning around me during a spin and the minute my blade lands back on ice after a jump. It's the moment the sun starts to rise after an all-nighter. Quiet is the 20-minute drive to the rink. And so, I believe that quiet is everywhere – you just have to allow yourself to slow down enough to recognize it.
This I Believe Illinois is NPR Illinois' annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. This I Believe was started by radio journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 to allow anyone able to distil the guiding principles by which they lived. Special thank you to our sponsors: The Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, BLH Computers, Illinois Times, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and Mary Beth & Harvey M. Stephens.