How Fear Gave Me Tinnitus

I’m no doctor, but I’m sure I’ve got tinnitus.

I can’t say I’m surprised – I’m always listening to music. Every commute I’ve ever been on has had a soundtrack. My earphones are a handbag staple and now, apparently, I’ve got constant ringing in my ears as my receipt.

Julius Drost, Unsplash

WHY, though, do I feel the need to listen to music when I’m doing anything – reading, tidying, studying, showering? Yes, mostly it’s because my taste in music is, to put it fairly, nothing short of sublime, and I have a playlist for practically every situation (chill out rhythms for sitting on a balcony, anyone?), but is there something deeper at the root of it all? Sometimes, the right tunes can enhance an experience: a certain song for the rain, a particular band for listening to on the beach. However, I think I can be driven to my earphones through fear – fear of being bored, fear of being outside of my comfort zone, fear of totally opening myself totally the world instead of letting is wash over me.

Believe it or not, it’s ok to be bored. It’s good. It’s something I’m starting to realise. Sometimes I wonder what I might have missed out on while I was tuned out. Imagine the people that I have walked right past, or let walk right past me, while I was disconnected from the world. I wonder what tales we could have shared, or how they could have impacted my life. I wonder what ideas I could have had, stories I could have started writing, new sounds I could have heard instead of Spotify. While I’ve been sitting, scared of boredom, I’ve been shutting myself off from experience, inspiration, and chance encounters.

What’s the point of getting yourself to Shut Up And Go, if you’re going to spend every spare minute blocking out the world? Of course, sometimes a gal needs to take that time for herself, pop in those earphones and sink into some tunes. But, for me, I feel like I may have been subconsciously choosing my comfort zone over those little risks (that aren’t even risks at all) that go hand in hand with living.

Brave The Silence

Are you in a hostel? Get to know your roommates! Maybe you’ll only ever chat on your bunks, or maybe you’ll end up on a crazy adventure together. Are you on a plane? Get chatting to the people you’re sat next to! Maybe you’re headed to the same place, or maybe you’ll just have a convo buddy until you land. Or even when you are in your local café, pub, library, gym, whatever?  This ain’t just advice for travel, this is advice for life. You never know who you might meet or what you might overhear when you connect to your surroundings, be they down the road from your house or on the other side of the world.


Shutting up and going isn’t just an action; it’s an attitude

So let’s get real about fear…

Have I ever been on a solo trip? No. Do I want to? HELL YEAH. Am I going to? Well, I’d be a hypocrite if I started making excuses not to. But does it scare me? You bet. That’s not going to stop me, though. It’s easy for me to pop in my earphones and get by, but that’s not what I want anymore. It’s time that I stopped being passive in my life, and stopped listening to the world through the filter of my earphones. The ‘alleged’ tinnitus is here to stay, but the fear is on its way out.

And I’d rather hear the world dubbed over the ringing in my ears, than not at all.

Meet me in the comments: how have you braved the everyday?

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