listening

Katherine asked us in her blog post, to think about how much we actually listen in an age when the world is full of cell phone rings, twitter update beeps and distracting noise. So I sat down and thought about everything I hear, every day. In the morning, I hear my car radio on the way to class. I sit through endless lectures listening to professors, I listen to crowds in the student center, friends on their phones — all this jumble of noise. And when I finally get home, I walk in my room, shut the door, and enjoy the sweet sound of nothingness. It’s peaceful, really.

But how much do we actually digest what we’re listening to? It’s one thing to hear these noises, but much different to actually listen and process them. I’m an easily distracted person. I have to be going and doing something at all times. So, if I’m in class and the teacher is talking about something that may not be of interest, I constantly find myself mentally preparing for a test I have soon or what articles I have to write, then checking my phone to see what time it is so I can get on whatever to-do list I just made in my mind. But, then that’s really the problem isn’t it? My generation grew up constantly thinking about the future so much that we forget to stay in the present. Whether we’re a toddler looking forward to our next birthday, a high school kid stressing about college or a college student worrying about the “real world,” we never stop and take a breath.

I think the lesson here is to make yourself stay in the present. To tell yourself that whatever the future holds can wait, and now, this exact moment, is more important. Lately, I’ve been putting away my phone and taking things one step at a time. When I’m in class, I try to only focus on class and tune in to what the teacher is saying. Especially with interviews, I need peace and quiet so I can hear and transcribe what the person is actually telling me — even if that means I have to sneak into the break room, another classroom, or even a closet (I’ve done it before, no joke). The message is clear: If we focus on the present tasks at hand and really listen to what is going around us, we’ll be more productive than we would if we solely focus on the future.

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