The Void In Your Life Is A Calling, Not A Curse
That void you feel is not a curse. It can certain feel like one, the bottomless pit of dissatisfaction at everything you throw in to fill it. But its not meant to ruin your pursuit for happiness, its trying to send a message.
What if we stopped trying to fill the void in our lives? What if instead of filling it, we sat in it for a while and listened to what it’s calling us to?
The void. You have one, we all do, and our personal mission on a daily basis is to fill it. Whether it’s emotional, spiritual, financial, or relational we seek out ways to fill an emptiness that haunts us. We shop, eat, tell jokes, say yes when we really mean no all for the sake of satiating a deep seated hunger of something. That something is different for each of us, but it’s present and it’s powerful.
I struggle with small talk. As an introvert, meeting new people and engaging in small talk is an energy zapping exercise that produces little in the way of a meaningful encounter. It’s mostly so exhausting because I find myself constantly avoiding the void – in this situation, named Awkward Silence. My goal during any small talk discussion is to avoid the inevitable point when a subject has been exhausted and hasn’t laid a path for a new topic to sprout.
What I learned while considering how the voids in my life affect my personality is that I’ve always interpreted awkward silence through a shame translator. Like those ridiculous online translators that spit out incoherent sentences, that moment of having nothing more to say is translated back to me as “no good, unworthy, terrible first impression, shameful.”
In my head I dance around my instincts and play the part of the outgoing, fun conversationalist betraying my true self in order to prove awkward silence wrong. It’s tiresome and eventually I’ll retreat, excusing myself at the first opportunity and feeling ashamed for the performance, convinced I’ll be called out as a fraud.
The void disguises itself as many things. Awkward silence is common in my life, but there are other voids with different names that affect everyone: sugar cravings, shopping sprees, one night stands, or class clowns. To fill the void we indulge, we spend money, we seek affection, and we beg for acceptance. It’s an emptiness that longs to be filled with anything but resolution. And we are ever so eager to oblige because it feels easier, safer, and instantly satisfying.
Comfort food, new clothes, a new relationship, the life of the party – these are incredibly fulfilling and satisfying in the moments when we feel most vulnerable. But it never lasts, and almost always will lead us to a dead end.
While thinking about my issue with small talk recently, I considered the role that awkward silence plays and how it’s really just the arrival of the void. Mayor of my self-worth and value, his term of office never seems to end. I’ve been serving the void since I discovered shame and I’m getting tired. And I thought what if I just stopped? Can I do that? Can I just stop giving the void my vote?
I realized that maybe the void isn’t a perpetual haunting but actually a calling to become something more, to rise up to my true, unique, and interesting self.
Maybe I could embrace the awkward silence and genuinely allow the moment to dictate the next word. What if a few moments of silence gives way to a thought or action that is truly valuable and creates an intentional and exciting conversation? That possibility is lost when thoughtless words flow without purpose or direction.
However the void appears, it should not be instantly gratified as we are so quick to do. It should be embraced with the desire to understand it. Because filling it with momentary pleasures and quick fixes will never satiate its desire, because its desire isn’t to cheat us out of a fulfilling and contented life, but to inspire and direct us to it.
Embracing the void looks like this:
Stop filling awkward silences with uninteresting and needless chit chat. Wait for inspired conversation to spark.
Stop emotional eating by calmly evaluating how you feel in the moment you reach for that pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and deal with that emotion first.
Stop spending money on things you don’t need to impress others. Consider honestly why you seek approval from others with the things you own.
Stop seeking acceptance from another individual by living someone else’s life. Be yourself and you’ll find real, unconditional acceptance.
The void is in all of us and can appear donning many faces; the trick is to recognize it. We aren’t required to fill its cup when it arrives at our party. We can deny it access, but let’s not forget to pay attention to why it showed up in the first place. It may have overheard a conversation with your mother in law that made you feel belittled, or maybe it saw that new car your boss drove to work this morning that filled you with envy. It possibly saw you in the mirror the other day as you spoke words of hate about your appearance.
The void is often invited to the party but its arrival is misunderstood.
Its message is calling us into a deeper, more meaningful existence.
Every way in which it appears is to call us deeper into an experience of personal enlightenment. Imagine the void not as a cup or bucket or trough but as a funnel. We put all our efforts to fill the void with whatever gives it immediate satisfaction only to watch it disappear moments later. Instead that funnel is meant to take us from the brim of overindulgence and self harming behaviors to a narrow path of deep self understanding which streams from the other end as a purified, intentional, and authenticated life.
Stop filling the void with instant gratification and start welcoming it, understanding it, and drawing from it the rich experience of growth.