hearing the birdsong in the storm
a glimpse of hope
I once read about a young girl who told her parents she needed to go to a doctor because she heard what she thought to be an unsettling voice in her head. She thought something was wrong and that all that noise couldn’t be normal. Turns out she was hearing her own thoughts and that it was simply her own brain that had felt foreign to her.
Now I know that this is a case of a pubescent teen trying to understand her space in the world and how functioning works, but, for better or for worse, I resonated with that story.
As a 22-going-on-23-year-old woman who has experienced an immense amount of change in the past year and a half, I understand this feeling of unfamiliarity in your own head. Every day I hear a new perspective or a new fear or a new idea and the poor, little, overwhelmed voice in my head spins in circles until she topples. Allowing that voice in your head to be heard, let alone to listen to her, feels like trying to maintain a regulated sleep schedule in our current quarantined state- simply impossible. I’ve started to feel like life is one giant game of tag where you always seem to be sprinting after but always just out of reach of yourself.
So for a relatively organized individual like myself who likes to think she is on top of what she needs to be and that she can chase down and organize what has escaped her, finding that, more often than not, things are in the midst of escaping rather than being sat on was less than ideal. As I learned that fascinating tidbit of information, I learned that I couldn’t quite understand the voice in my head either or, indeed, recognize it at all.
I believe that realization to be pretty normal for most people, especially younger folks like myself, but it was still a jarring experience. To begin to comprehend how this world teaches us to drown our thoughts, or just drowns them for us, was hard. To understand that there is and has always been a whirlwind of information being thrown at us. Telling us we need to lose weight. We need to be productive. We are too emotional. We aren’t accomplishing enough. We should be in a heterosexual marriage and have 2.5 kids RIGHT NOW. WE broke the world. WE need to fix it. WE aren’t doing enough. WE aren’t enough. Ever.
How are we supposed to hear ourselves think, let alone be comfortable with the voices we hear when we are told we are always existing wrong?
Due to this onslaught of opinions and rules, the voice I hear is, at best, fragmented and, at worst, non-existent. I know what I am supposed to think, but it’s incredibly difficult to actually think for myself. So, for an inherently opinionated, independent soul like me, learning that I don’t know myself was not ideal. Usually, If I don’t know something or don’t know how to do something- I am going to learn and I am going to do it right, even if it kills me.
But lately? It's just been killing me.
My scattered, ambitious self has been floundering in the middle of this hurricane of information and fear. I was born in 1997, so I have never known a time without a barrage of information always being present. However, the past few months have been ludicrously overwhelming. My generation has grown more and more desensitized to the bad stuff because we always know when it happens and why it happened and who did it and where it could happen next. Hearing all of this all the time has the potential to be helpful, but, as of late, it's only made hopelessness run rampant.
I like to be optimistic about the future, but for the first time in my short life, I find less and less sunshine in the world when I look out. The bad looks too big and too heavy for us to wade through. Too all-encompassing for any cracks of light to form. Too much for any amount of people to push back.
So, when you combine that weighty feeling of hopelessness with being young and new to this whole adulting thing, you get a 14-year-old girl who can’t tell if the voice in her head is normal or not.
A 14-year-old who wants to grow and do all the things she was promised she could do. She wants to be happy and to help people and to want to live. She wants to hear that voice in her head and let it calm the racket so that she can move forward confidently and calmly. She wants to love and know and be without anxiety.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that 22-almost-23 years is not enough time to have discovered that yet. It seems she will have to weather many more storms before she figures out how to hear her voice in the middle of the maelstrom.
I suppose that’s what life is though, isn’t it? It’s shoving through waves of uncertainty and darkness. It’s getting lost and turned around. It’s breaking down and crying a bit (or a lot). But it’s also choosing to continue. Choosing to fight the bad, the dark and to find yourself in the middle of it all. As someone who is currently coming out of my worst depressive episode in a while, this all sounds really hard and insanely vague.
But it’s what I’ve got right now. I’ve got that confused, hopeful, little 14-year-old to keep alive- so I guess we’ll start there.
And we’ll listen to her.