Having already ugly-cried in a professor’s office that day, standing in the middle of the college cafeteria, I could feel another meltdown coming on. My face heated up and my eyes began to well with tears. I tossed a couple more vegetables onto my salad, grabbed some silverware and a cup of coffee, and headed over to a table. I put in my earbuds, pulled up the Audible app on my phone, and lost myself in the world of my book.
I ate quickly, then headed off to work. Once at work, I removed my earbuds and sunk back into my grief. Work distracted me effectively, after all, gotta act happy for those customers, and by the end of my shift, I was myself again. I walked briskly through the cool night air to the beat of my favourite band (Yonina, if anyone cares), heading back to my dorm to sleep the day off.
Once I was back at my dorm, my boyfriend called me on Skype. He asked about the details of my rough day, and I switched off my video and cried all over again. He comforted and encouraged me, and finally, we said goodnight. I wiped up my tears and opened Spotify. Before long, I was humming along with Elton John and Billy Joel as I carried out my bedtime routine. Finally, I switched off the music, crawled into bed, and drifted off to sleep, leaving the miserable day behind.
As I drifted off to sleep, though, I remembered my near-meltdown in the cafeteria and what I’d done to prevent it. I had inserted my earbuds and drifted off to a different world. I remembered my tears on the phone with my boyfriend and what I’d done to end them. I had pulled up my music and focused on that. I realized that just like a drug user inserts a needle to avoid his issues, I’d inserted my earbuds to avoid mine.
I picked up my phone and glanced at the apps. Spotify. Pandora. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest (did I just confess to that?). Youtube. An impressive stash.
Today, I was going through my camera roll, looking for a picture, and something struck me. It was the amount of pictures of me in which I had earbuds either in my ears or draped around my neck as my favourite accessory. After all, you never know when you might wind up in a stir-fry line a mile long with nothing to do. But then again, the stir-fry line is where I met Katy and Ben. And Alyssa and Lauren. Why was I thankful for those relationships, yet making myself unapproachable to others I could cherish just as much?
So when I went off to class today, I left my earbuds behind. During the ten minutes I call my “ten seconds of sanity,” which I usually use to sit on a retaining wall, listening to my favourite songs before heading off to class again, I sat on the retaining wall, simply listening to birds and wind and distant chatter. A couple friends greeted me as they passed by. Between classes, I didn’t check my social media. I smiled at people’s real faces and chatted with friends in the cafeteria. And at the end of the day, I felt… peaceful. And at the end of the day, while I brushed my teeth and washed my face, I played a song. It was nice. I checked Instagram. It was also nice. But nicest of all was the day I spent with friends and nature and… quiet.