The Awkward Thing About Awkward Silences

Dedicated to people who find the very notion of awkward silences very awkward- at least, when it’s between friends.

quotation

You haven’t seen each other for years and years.

The last time you spent quality time with each other, you were children.


Yet for the past few months, you re-connected virtually, either through Facebook, LinkedIn, somewhere, somehow- and since then you’ve both been (in vain) struggling to set a time to physically meet up. However, it seems that something keeps popping up at your or their end, and fate simply won’t let it happen.


And then it does, finally, at long lasts. A time clicks; you both cancel anything and everything that tries to set you apart.


And what happens when you meet up? Instead of the fireworks of friendship you and she/he were clearly expecting, an unexpected guest shows up to this reunion: he tends to go by the name of


“The Awkward Silence”


Now let me give you a little run down about these two friends’ – you and their- backgrounds:


  • You USED to go to the same school, took the same classes, had the same teachers, hated the same bullies and stuck-up snobs. You used to have this in common.


  • You USED to have the same social circle, watched the same movies, played the same games, bought the same toys. You used to have this in common.


  • You USED to have the same interests and priorities in life- it was all about getting good marks, right?– and gifts, of course, be they for holidays or birthdays. You used to have this in common.


  • You USED to have the same sense of humor, and laugh about things you didn’t understand, and giggle away uncomfortable incidents that were immediately forgotten. You used to have this in common.


Those were the days that The Awkward Silence never for a moment intruded. There was too much to talk about, too much to do, too much to agree with one another and too much validation needed to enlarge one’s self-esteem. Now that you’re both all grown up with unique personalities, you start noticing things when you finally meet up you did not consider previously.


You notice that


  • Ever since you went to different high schools and post-secondary institutions…
  • Ever since that once-seemingly-permanent mutual circle of friends disintegrated and people found new friends more compatible…
  • Ever since your interests changed in drastic ways- one preferring hot celebrities and gossip and worldly pleasures while the other delved deeper in faith and spirituality…
  • Ever since your sense of humor changed- one enjoying random outbursts of unusualness while the other preferred a sexualized, degrading form of lower humor…
  • Ever since your priorities in life changed- one preferring to live according to a higher Being’s pleasure and the other wanting nothing more than to be accepted by others like herself, also waiting to be validated…


Now that you sit across each other holding your cups of coffee, both of you wear the tightest of smiles because suddenly there is nothing to talk about.


The Awkward Silence takes over (naturally).

quick!

But why is it awkward?


Here is my personal theory. Many of us are conditioned by society’s norm to always be moving, acting, talking, in motion, be it in body or tongue. The notion that the words are moving at an alarmingly fast rate in one’s mind while they never leave the lips is not considered socially comfortable. Below is probably the conversation unraveling in the two friends’ minds while the well-known beast called The Awkward Silence thoroughly enjoys the scene.


For sake of simplicity and lack of confusion, let us call arbitrarily call the two people You and I.


SCENE:


Both you and I sip our coffees, pretending to be immersed in the flavor of it while really, we do anything to fill up the time. When we accidentally catch each other’s eye, we quickly exchange smiles but avert our eyes away, as though afraid the other will see the nervous thoughts you are thinking… they go something like this:


YOU: Wow, my friend has really changed. I’m interested to know more about her… but she’s barely doing any talking. She probably regrets agreeing to meet up with me, I probably scared her with all my spirituality obsession. I don’t want to annoy her with questions; let’s just drink this coffee and get it over with.


I: Wow, my friend has really changed. Her new unusual lifestyle intrigues me. I want to know more about it. But she might think I’m being all racist or something. Best to stay away from matters like these.


YOU: It’s really too bad this silence is so awkward. I’m enjoying her presence as it is, I feel like a careless kid again.. but she probably thinks the reason I’m quiet is because I wish she’d go away. This is embarrassing. Why can’t I think of anything to say?!


I: Honestly, this is ridiculous. At this rate we will never meet up again. But I have really good memories with her and I don’t want to ruin a friendship just because we have no common grounds! I’m sure we have lots in common we don’t know of. We just need to talk about it. But she’s not talking! Probably disappointed in what she sees. Shame, because I appreciate the person she is, not what she does…


YOU: It’s what she IS I appreciate, not what she DOES. I wish I can tell her I’m so glad she’s sitting across of me… but then she’ll think I’m being cheesy or sarcastic. Just keep my mouth shut then.


I: She’s not talking. Clearly she regrets meeting me.


YOU: She’s not talking. Clearly this was a mistake. She won’t look at me. Well, I mean… we have nothing in common.


I: I actually don’t mind silence. But she probably thinks it’s awkward. Knowing she thinks the silence is awkward is exactly what makes it awkward.


YOU: I don’t MIND silence for a bit. But she probably thinks it’s awkward, which is making it increasingly awkward, and I don’t know how to break it.


I: I can’t break the silence; it’s like ice now. I’ll just keep sipping coffee.


YOU: Must… keep sipping coffee to fill the silence!


*slurp slurp slurp*

 

*The Awkward Silence slapping his knee uncontrollably and shouting LMAO!*


This, folks, is what makes a silence awkward. Each member assumes the other is taking it as such, and in thinking this way, it becomes so. Truly your thoughts have power over you.

heisenberg awkward


Now this didn’t actually happen to me recently, though I foresee it to as a long-ago childhood friend and I would like to connect and meet up in person. She was the closest thing to me in my early years and it’s such a shame that we live in the same city yet have not had a decent conversation for the past, oh, I don’t know… past decade? We’d been Facebook friends for a while and we both undoubtedly saw the very different lifestyles we were each pursuing. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about her anymore; her lifestyle and her being are two different things.

 

I don’t find silences awkward, but I know she might. It’s good for me to sort of brace myself for what might happen, to prevent it from doing so. Maybe I’ll start the whole thing off by telling her how glad I am we’re finally seeing each other, and to point out in advance the truthful fact that I have the bizarre habit of either speaking as though I swallowed a radio, or that I enjoy simply listening in rapt attention with no words on my part. (I should be a little bit more moderate, I know…)


Interestingly, one of the ways I determine how strong my relationship with someone is is actually through a very simple test. I wait for a moment when words are lost between us, and see how it plays out. If it’s all nervous smiles, lip biting and hand fidgeting, I know they’re not completely comfortable with me: they may be assuming I’m thinking negatively of their inability to keep up the conversation, or I might be thinking that of them. However, when I can spend a solid 5 minutes with a dear friend and casually mention, “by the way, just to let you know, I actually like moments of quiet; I really do enjoy your company!” and the other bursts out, “Me too! Oh my God, finally I find someone that relates!” – well, I know it’s a friend worth keeping.


Long story short: silences are not awkward. They are beautiful moments in time in which you both embrace the fact that sometimes, silence is louder than words. A silence can either be a very direct way of saying ‘I don’t like you, you’re not worth my time so don’t even think of getting on my good side’ – or it may mean ‘I’m so comfortable with you I don’t need to pretend to have something to say right now when I don’t’. Silences among friends are not awkward unless you think them… then they become it.


Elliott Kay summarizes it most eloquently:


“Silence is beautiful, not awkward. The human tendency to be afraid of something beautiful is awkward.”

contemplative leaves

Wishing you a day of beautiful rich silences filled with depth and meaning. 🙂
~
Peace,
A.S.
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Timelessly Perfect

~

I’ve been saving an absolutely wonderful wise quote to write a lengthy blog post on for months now. But more often than not, less can be more… and I really don’t think there is more to elaborate on this.

“As I look back on life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better. You must convince your heart that whatever God has decreed for you is the most appropriate and beneficial to you.”

– Imam Al Ghazali

Looking over the horizon. (Image from swissre.com ad.)

Isn’t it just timelessly perfect? Truly God knows best.

-A.S.

The Onion War

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So it all started out innocently enough

I was just preparing to make shrimp with stuff

In determination, I held tight to my sharp knife

Silently sent a sorry to what would undergo strife.

But if I thought I was in ultimate control

Then my perception crashed soon to the floor…

Though I held the knife,

Which danger is its life

What that round thing was about to do,

Must’ve undoubtedly done the same to you…

There you are, sunshine thoughts in your head

Yet the onion plans revenge while it’s being shred

Despite the smile inside you, one eye begins to burn

And as soon as you blink quicker, it’s the other eye’s turn!

You grab another onion firmly and chop faster now

Yet this onion thinks of the same revenge plot – how?

You’re quite shocked when a tear slides your face

But you refuse to quit because you can’t lose this race!

So you chop chop chop in a frantic frenzy

Perhaps you looked depressed and a little crazy

You take a pause when the tears literally pour

Relax for a few seconds, then brace yourself for more.

But surprisingly enough, no more tears did come

Perhaps after the battle, they were all done

I suspiciously glared at the onions, both chopped and whole

And numbly realized they were giving up and letting me take control.

Long story short:

Onions do look quite innocent enough…

Even if that innocence can be merely a bluff.

water-drop-counterport

P.S.: Please don’t ask me why I wrote this. It was an in-the-moment-while-the-onion-was-making-me-cry thing.

–A.S.

The Flavor of Taste

choco guitar

You know when you get so used to something enriching, it often unfortunately becomes a part of routine and hence is no longer appreciated?

Like the fact you walk. When you were only learning, you were probably very aware of your legs, of your focus in trying to keep balance, in your sense of pride as you managed to wobble across the room into your mother’s arms. Although your small baby brain didn’t register it as such, this amazing ability of human beings to balance themselves on two feet is an outstanding blessing.

But now, I’ll run up an entire staircase with my mind preoccupied on something totally unrelated, and then vaguely wonder how I managed not to trip; and then I think to myself, how did my legs take me where I wanted to go, even while I wasn’t consciously thinking of the destination? My legs got used to walking and long ago stopped waiting for my full attention to be focused on them in order to function.

Routine: it can turn something beautiful into something mundane, solely because thought is no longer given to it.

Now lately, since midterms and final exams are not weighing on my thoughts anymore, when I’m not reading or writing poetry on the buses and metros, I’ve taken to reflecting on basic things humans have, that we’ve become so immune to that we fail to realize we are living among God’s greatest miracles every second of our lives.

Taste was today’s subject of scattered thoughts.

fruits

CONTEXT:

My friend recommended me to try out Second Cup’s drink of “London Fog with soy milk and sugar”. I had no idea what that was, so she needed to write it down for me on paper and I read it out loud to the kind lady behind the cashier. It turned out to be a kind of tea with milk and foam and I added chocolate sprinkles and vanilla powder and sugar to the top.

My taste buds exploded. YUM!

It was ever so elegantly delicious and exquisite. The lyrics from a song burst out playing in my mind, “Wheeeeerrrre have you been… all my liiiiife… all my life?”

(All that is to say, it was pretty good.)

The thought then occurred to me that so often, we just take the gift of taste for granted. It’s like we assume we deserve to enjoy the experience of eating, when in reality feeding the body is not so much about pleasure as it is about survival.

And yet God gives us taste, because He wants us to  thank Him for allowing us to take pleasure in addition to merely surviving.

We could easily have been beings who could feel hunger and satisfy it with food, without really having different flavours to intensify the experience. But in His abundant Mercy and Love, God bestowed upon us the gift of taste.

We don’t really need meticulously picky taste buds to taste our food, in order to know that we are no longer starving to death and have been nourished. He could’ve given us one type of plant that contained all the vitamins and minerals necessary to have a strong healthy body. But God in His infinite wisdom gave us so much more than that, and so much more than we deserve…

Taste is one of the many flavors of life… May we discover the other flavors and appreciate them.

الحمد لله

cheesecake and coffee

A.S.

Her Beauty Quest

~

I was asked to perform some spoken word at the Pearls of the World Fashion Show this evening. I realized none of my poetry is really girly-orientated… so I whipped this up on the city bus yesterday (trying to ignore the fact the woman next to me was reading every word I wrote over my shoulder the whole time). 

Her Beauty Quest

beauty quest

She spends her entire life seeking it

Searching, dreaming,

Paying all she has for it–

But she still hasn’t found it.

She can’t find it

By looking in the wrong place

Some misconceptions won’t let her move forward

Unless them she’d erase–

Now:

Allow

Me to tell you

What

They tell her.

They tell her

True beauty means she must

Look like that girl, that actress

Always compare herself to them

And always them to impress

Be as skinny as a twig

Change hair styles like a wig

Eyeshadow colors that gives off a look of bruised eyes

Seems ugly is the new beauty –  magazines can’t lie!

They tell her

She would be more kissable if she puffed up those lips

Practically grow claws on her fingertips

Be more successful with a little cleavage showing

Wear super short skirts even when it’s snowing–

When they told her such

She obeyed them, pretty much

She read up on every fashion news feed

Spent SO much money on cosmetics in greed

But so much time passes, and she sees no result

She still feels so insecure; could she be at fault?

Why wasn’t there improvement, even slight as sprinkles?

Nothing to show her efforts except, well– some early wrinkles

They told her to be beautiful

She must embark on this superficial beauty quest

But a wise man once said that physical beauty

Is merely a stepping stone to pass the real test

If she’d only say,

With an open heart everyday:

Oh Allah, as You have made my appearance beautiful, make my character beautiful.”

Now this begs the question:

How could you find something you don’t know you already have?

drop perfect

Physical beautiful will eventually pass

Unless it’s retained with good character in a tight grasp

So why would she want what fades

Without seeking also what lasts?

And she is beautiful now

If she would only allow

Herself to embark on a real beauty quest

To seek out the type that will outshine the rest…

BEAUTY

Comes from confidence in herself

Because she knows Who’s got her back

Comes from a nurtured intellect

To keep her on the right track

BEAUTY

Comes from eyes that see blessings

That shed tears when she repents from sinning

Comes from a heart that can empathize, and deeply feel

A heart that results in actions sincere, genuine and real

BEAUTY

Comes from a tongue that speaks kindness

That won’t allow any filth to touch it like gossip

Comes with a wise spirit, from listening and acting right

With a sharp mind that won’t accept being manipulated without a fight

It comes from contemplation, self-knowledge and strong faith

BEAUTY comes in so many forms that all combine to create…

— YOU.

red-vector-beauty-wallpaper

–A.S.