Updated: Dec 24, 2022
DAYO'S NOTE: One thing that I will like to introduce to the blog are reflections or things that I learn or realize throughout the weeks. This format is more or less a stream of consciousness, but I hope that with posts like this I can inspire thought or maybe even provide a bit of wisdom or support. Enjoy!
I made a pact with myself to listen to my sister more. For those of you who know my sister, you know that sometimes she can talk your ear off. She is a vivid talker. Her stories have details and her mind flows continuously. During my senior year of high school, I challenged myself to have more patience. I realized that I couldn't take her stories for granted any longer. The day that I would be leaving for college was coming closer and closer and I knew that the chances to connect with her and hear her stories were going to get smaller and smaller. Therefore I decided to listen to her. I told myself to hear her out every time she had something to say. And in turn, I learned three things:
How to measure my time
Listening is a great adhesive
The strength in having something to say.
My motivation for not listening to my sister in the past wasn't solely because I'm a complete jerk. I just simply used to feel as if I genuinely didn't have enough time. I lived my life from assignment to assignment, and when I didn't, I shoved everything in my life under a bed labeled "procrastination". To take care of myself was procrastination, to read for enjoyment was procrastination, to hang out with friends was procrastination, to do anything that I enjoyed other than the assignment at hand was procrastination -- but in this case, to listen to my sister was also, in my head, a form of procrastination. The consequence of this feeling was a deep sense of guilt. At its most emotional I would feel as if I am wasting my time and life.
For me to take the time to listen was inadvertently my first step in reframing my image of time. Sometimes the assignments, and the deadlines, and the X and the Y (activities that truly don’t speak to my growth, my legacy, my character, etc.) can wait. The moral of this part of the story is this: there has been no amount of time that I spent listening to my sister that hindered my academic or professional performance.
Said from another lense: Any time that I've spent in taking care of myself, loving myself, and loving those around me, has never (not once) negatively affected my goals. In fact, from my experience, it has only helped me get closer to achieving my goals.
Yes, time is finite, but when I look back at my life, I want my time to be measured by the conversations I've had, the people I've connected with, and the love that I shared, including the love that I shared with myself. I would be disappointed in myself if I were to look back and the only thing that and my legacy can only be described in is numbers. For me, I have to radically hold on to the fact that I will always be more than my income, my grades, or my exam scores. Although are important, my life transcends these numbers.
Additionally, I began to realize just how much I was missing out when it came to understanding the people that I loved through listening. A few weeks ago, I was in an Uber ride with another one of my sisters, and once we got to our destination our Uber driver made a comment about how lovely it was to listen to us talk. She even said that our relationship was beautiful and heartwarming. I understood where she was coming from, sometimes it is hard for people to make connections, even with their family. But from my end, all I can say that I did to give off this impression was simply listen to what my sister had to say, and be committed to the conversation.
Looking back on all the relationships that I cherish, I believe that the common link that holds my bonds together is listening. Listening is a great adhesive. Generally, I have found that one of the things that fulfill me most in life is being able to make connections with people. Better yet, one thing that truly gives me pride is knowing that I am someone that people feel comfortable with, safe with, vulnerable with. I take pride in being able to create a space where people can open up and feel validated in being themselves. And from what I’ve learned, this space can easily be built through active listening. If I am being completely honest in my mission of being someone who creates positive change, my mission has to begin with the spaces that I create with the people immediately around me.
So going back to my sister, one point that I need to make is about the strength of having something to say. We live in a world where power can be manifested through silence. For too long, girls have been forced to be silent. Silent due to societal pressures, silent through violence. In my sister having something to say, and in turn, having someone to say it to, I hope that it reinforces that her words are important and that she is worthy to be heard. My final message is this:
I want my sister to know that it is beautiful, important, and powerful to have something to say. So speak, speak even when your audience might not even be prepared to listen. Speak because your voice propels, your mind moves mountains. But also, don’t forget to listen because that can be equally as great.
Your sister Dayo