I used to live for parties.
The sparkle and the sweet clinking together of golden-tinged champagne glasses—the beautiful sight of people dressed to the nines—the loud, chaotic mixture of busy chatter and sweaty bodies writhing to bumping beats.
I loved it. I loved it all. I loved getting ready for hours—picking out just the right outfit, wearing the hot-pink high-heels that used to be like my second skin—yeah, I wore those crazy, uncomfortable bastards everywhere.
But I loved parties mostly, for one sole reason—their beautiful ability to distract me from my own thoughts.
After a few sips of prosecco, I could numb away all the pesky, overwhelming, not-so-pretty feelings running through my veins and mute the thoughts of worthlessness and shame bubbling in my brain like a sad soup.
I could pretend I was invincible, untouchable and free of fear or doubt or guilt.
I loved pretending.
But pretending has its own price.
Behind the hollow mask of the bubbly girl who always looked so happy working the room—flirting, laughing, dancing, looking picture-perfect—I feared at every moment that someone would see the tender truth, lapping like a nasty, ice-capped wave just beneath the surface.
My smile was a little too wide, my eyes too eager, my words too desperate to fill up even the tiniest spaces of silence.
I was hiding.
I was hiding my sadness behind a thick coat of jet black mascara and carefully applied concealer, tucking my trembling social anxiety under the comforting, alcohol-woven blanket of a few glasses of wine, and stuffing my heart behind a stack of cheap, sequined compliments—praying so hard that those shiny words could patch up the ever-growing feeling of emptiness inside.
I was living on shaky ground—or, was I even living, all?
I sure as hell didn’t feel alive.
I was so scared of silence. I was scared of anything real. I was so scared to be alone.
I still am, sometimes.
But right now, as I sit and type these words, I bask in the sublime, simple silence of this chilly winter evening. All I hear is my breath, the tapping sound the heater and the clack-clack-clacking of my fingertips striking the keys.
I am in complete silence. I am completely alone. I am naked, without my glittery mask.
And yet, it does not feel empty—or lonely. It does not feel pathetic. Or sad. Or scary.
It feels deliciously tender, wonderfully raw and bursting at the seams with mind-blowing simplicity.
Each quiet second blossoms with subtle beauty before my tired eyes—the kind of beauty that’s undeniably sweet, like a tiny snowflake shimmying down to the ground. The kind of beauty that’s so subtle you could easily miss it, like a lone flower petal blowing in the breeze. The kind of beauty that if you stop to look—well, it’s just the most goddamn breathtaking sight in the whole world—so soft and simple it can’t help but break your heart wide open.
This is what I live for now—these tender moments of quiet, heartbreaking simplicity.
All of my life, I’ve been on this constant, exhausting quest for freedom. I’ve looked everywhere for the golden key that would finally uncage me and set me free—I’ve looked in crazy, loud adventures and wild drunken nights spent up late dancing in short dresses and fishnet stockings. I’ve looked in tangerine sunrises, gritty city streets, crashing ocean waves, meadow-filled mountaintops, passionate kisses and lovers of all kinds. And I’ve come up empty-handed every time.
Because nothing compares to the freedom that exists in a tender moment of silence.
We can travel far and wide—and have a beautiful, expensive life filled with beautiful, expensive things and go to fabulous parties and drink beautiful, expensive wine—but never learn how to be with ourselves, how to sit in silence and witness the tender unfolding of a moment.
And yet—isn’t that the most freeing thing of all?
I think so.
Because even if our lives fall apart tomorrow—if we f*ck everything up, if we go bankrupt, lose our home and our lover leaves us overnight—no one can take away the soulful strength that comes from facing silence with an open heart. No one can take away the beautiful bravery that comes from facing ourselves with an open heart.
It is only through the powerful practice of befriending silence that we can begin to befriend ourselves.
And so, as this precious moment cascades through my body—a waterfall of gushing goosebumps—I let silence shine, like a ray of sun, into the empty spaces of my heart. I let alone-ness drip into my thirsty pores, like healing honey. It hurts so good that tears form slowly in my eyes like a tiny, cleansing symphony of crystalline raindrops.
In the exquisite rawness of this moment, I am reminded that the answers we seek—the truths we crave, the freedom we thirst for—they will never be found running and rushing and galloping across the globe in a zig-zag pattern. It’s all right here.
Will we reach inside and embrace the present moment?
Will we look directly in our own eyes? Our own strong, yet fragile hearts?
Everything we need exists here. Right here.
So let’s be here.
Close your eyes and open your heart—breathe in the wild richness of quiet.
Face yourself gently—brave the soulful depths of quietude.
Let silence scare you. Let it soften you. Let it change you.
Because sh*t, it has changed me—I am a completely changed woman, but I haven’t become someone new—no, not at all.
Silence has granted me the sweetest freedom in the world—the ability to remember who I really am.
After all my frantic searching—a tender moment of silence is what set me free.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Basheer Tome