Silence in Our Silence Class
Since I won't be in class this Thursday I am posting what I would (or let's be serious) would NOT have contributed to class. Anne asked me to post about what I would say in class and I don't know why I'm so nervous writing this. I think it's a combination of things that we've been discussing in class: silence, inaccessibility, language, taking risks. I just read the Kalamara's reading and I don't know if I fully understood it. There were parts of it that I would like to discuss because I felt like I could relate to it, but I'm nervous to discuss it here because I don't have the opportunity to hear other people in our class talk about it first so I can decide whether or not I actually got the point of the reading. It seemed fairly accessible to me until it brought up eastern religions and then I got confused. I don't get the feeling that this article was supposed to be as dificult to read compared to the other inaccessible readings we read together in class but I started to lose my understanding of the reading towards the end. Because I finished reading the article in a confused state, I am hesitant to explain how I understood it. What if I read it all wrong?! Perhaps this is a situation in which I realize that the little inaccessible parts of some of the readings we are assigned lead to me not contributing in class. I don't want to complain about it - I just choose to shut up.
But here's what I did understand (and hopefully I got it right): In Western culture, we see silence as a bad thing. The women that don't speak up - they must be oppressed! They have to overcome this "condition of annihilation" (1). I found myself wondering, Does silence always have to be a bad thing? This makes me think about my struggles as a student in this class earlier on this semester (and I'm still struggling with it now, to be honest). Why did I always feel so bad and self-conscious about the fact that I didn't speak up in class? I feel like I struggled even harder with this question (in a very visible fashion) in our Voice class, but in our Silence class I don't even bother to speak! I thought the reason why I was usually so quiet was because I was processing - and that could still be it - but maybe I just have nothing to say or my classmates beat me to it. Do I look like I'm a less of a threat if I don't speak up? Do you take me seriously? Do you think I'm oppressed? Do you think I have issues with self-confidence?
Can my silence ever be seen in a positive manner?
I had a conversation with Irene for a podcast and - Irene, please correct me if I misquote you - she told me that she thinks she's become more confident speaking now because she's older than a lot of her classmates. She didn't seem to realize that her experience as a student may affect the way she speaks up in class. I was kind of happy to hear that - Maybe during my senior year I'll finally be able to talk like a normal person!
I'm just tired and exhausted and frustrated with myself. I'm tired of feeling like I need to speak up all the time. It was pointed out to me that maybe my silence in class may not be helpful to other people's learning in our class. I felt really bad about that. Does my silence really affect your learning experience? I'm so tired of trying to meet people's expectations and beating myself up for not speaking up. I like the way Kalamara's summed it up: "The West has misinterpreted the meaning of silence, and therefore its casting of silence as a negative condition - specifially the practice and awareness of silence - is misguided" (4). Maybe my silence shouldn't be your problem. I want to feel like I've made progress as a learner in this 360 but I can't help but feel like I'm back at Square One. I can gain experience as a public speaker over as many years as I want, but if I don't want to speak, I won't.