How does silence limit our growth?
Silence limits our growth because it prevents us from working through our problems with ourselves and those around us. In Audre Lorde’s essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language” she speaks about the ways in which silence controls our lives. She believes that the suffering we feel when we speak out does not go away when we are silent. Therefore, we have nothing to lose by speaking up. In some cases the suffering inflicted upon us when we are silent can be more pernicious than those experienced while speaking our mind. Lorde identifies this suffering as the “fear [of] visibility without which we cannot truly live.” Audre Lorde is explaining that we fear the rejection and humiliation that is possible with being seen however in order to live, we must be seen. The tension between the two concepts highlights that by being silent, we are unable to receive all the resources we need to live our lives to the fullest. When we are seen and heard, it opens up a world of possibilities that can help make that suffering a little easier. Talking through our problems allows us to discover aspects of ourselves we did not know before or did not dare to look at. The only way we can find those people who can help us on this journey is by looking for them. If we do not speak up, “we rob ourselves of ourselves and each other.” Lorde is pointing out that the choice to be silent prohibits us from becoming more comfortable with ourselves and connecting with those around us. Thus, taking away the opportunity to better our lives and find a community. In this way, by being silent, we add to our suffering and are choosing to inflict more pain on ourselves than the amount of pain that comes from being seen. In order to truly grow as a person, we all must recognize our struggles and speak up about what we need, instead of simply suffering in silence.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Entry 2 Part 5 – Hankin 4 by Sophie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

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