During several trainings and workshops I’ve been in as a writer, they’ve asked us what we want our website to be like for our readers. This question was meant to help us determine what we wanted our writing to feel like, what we wanted readers to know they could expect from us. I never quite understood it at the time, and would usually come up with some vague answer that helped me pass the training, but also never quite clicked with me.
Over the past couple weeks, I think I found it. And I’d like to say it was some beautiful moment of enlightenment, but it was more like one moment it just hit me.
I lived—and still live—in a noisy world. As a kid, I ran into people (some louder than others) that encouraged me to be quiet. Some of them probably had no idea that was the impression they left on me. Some were very aware of what they were doing.
I believed that if I asked a question, I could be punished. I believed that if I talked about the things I loved, I could be brushed aside and have the subject changed. I believed that my own words from my own mouth might often go unnoticed, but if someone else said the same thing, people might perk up and listen.
Some of those things were true, even though they shouldn’t have been. Some of them weren’t true, but my mind tried its best to convince me they were.
I lived in a noisy world, but none of that noise was supposed to be mine.
So rather than risk the “could’s” and “might’s,” I went silent.
I isolated through most of my teen years and had few friends. It was lonely, but I was convinced no one wanted to hear what I had to say.
I sought out quiet places. Corners here or there where I could curl up with a book or a notebook. Because when I was in a quiet place where no one else could hear, that was where I where I could be loud. Where I could ask questions and have opinions and love the stories I wanted to love.
Because even though outwardly I was quiet, my mind was loud.
But most important during that time were the people who did want to hear what I had to say, and stuck it out over the long run to convince me of that. I have family members and friends that may never know how much of an impact they had on me.
When people couldn’t be there, I turned to stories. I watched my favorite movies over and over again. I branched out into new authors, books, and genres as my reading tastes developed.
Through stories, I found people just like me. And no matter how quiet those characters were, someone always heard them. Which made me begin to wonder, could someone hear me?
Through stories, I discovered a whole world full of people like me, who, for one reason or another, had been silenced. Maybe because of race, or gender, or mental illness, or disability, or traumatic backgrounds.
And as I learned and understood more, I developed an overwhelming desire not only to be heard, but to hear. I wanted to learn everything I possibly could and live with my mind wide open to whatever might be waiting for me next.
To do that, I couldn’t stay hidden away in a corner.
It was a slow process, with lots of help and gentle nudges from God, some of my family members, and new friends I began to meet. But I came out of those quiet places.
I don’t think I ever truly abandoned quiet places. I simply traded them for listening places instead.
I met people who not only shared their own passions and experiences, but listened when I shared the things that I loved and that I felt deeply about.
I began developing healthy relationships for the first time. And as I did, I became more and more passionate about the overlooked and the silenced. I wanted to hear their stories, I sought them out.
In an Instagram reel a few weeks ago, I wrote this: “I want this Bookstagram account to be a place where we both listen and be heard, a place where no one interrupts or changes the subject and where we can celebrate the good stories we love.”
And that is when I knew. I’ve known all along, I just haven’t been able to put it into words.
I want my writing—whether that’s a post on my website, a Bookstagram reel, or a novel—to be a listening place.
I want to be able to speak the loud things in my mind and know that someone hears and cares. And I want to be able to listen while you do the same. I want to be a place where the silenced can come to speak and know that no one’s going to interrupt them or tell them to be quiet. Because God listens, and God hears, and God cares.
Do you have a loud mind? Have you been told to be quiet? Do you want to learn and listen, while also being heard? Then this is a place for you. Do you know someone who needs to be heard? Then this is a place for you, and for them, and for anyone. Send them this article.
Let’s create a listening place together.
Hi, I'm Rachel! I'm the author of the posts here at ProseWorthy. Thanks for stopping by!