Girl On A Mission: Seven Days of Silence

Words: Ocean Trimboli

© Mpclemens

© Mpclemens

How long do you think you could be quiet for? A few minutes? A few hours? Maybe a few days even? Or maybe you are like me, someone who couldn’t imagine going without talking for even a few seconds.

I am a self-proclaimed extrovert and chatterbox, obsessed with constant human interaction and hour-long phone calls. When it comes to talking, it doesn’t matter to who, or what, or even just to myself – I can’t stop. Some call it annoying, I call it a gift: the gift of the gab.

Recently, I began to reflect on my overly chatty nature; I always had to have an opinion, always speaking

over others trying to make my voice heard. And so, I set a challenge for myself. A challenge to give up my world of words, and take a seven-day vow of silence, and all for a good cause too!

I’ve planned to go on a Christian mission trip in 2016, to reach out to communities living in poverty and victims of human trafficking. To fundraise the costs, I decided to give up my voice for a week; in standing up for those stripped of the basic human right: freedom of speech. Most people would hold a bake sale or a car wash, but as you’ve probably guessed I am not ‘most people’.

© Zaytsev Artem

© Zaytsev Artem

And let me tell you: not talking is as difficult as you would think. In easing the tough week, I gathered these essential tools: a sign declaring “I AM SILENT”, a notepad, a pen and self-control.  All must haves to your success in staying silent. My advice: be prepared for all types of miscommunication and getting stuck in awkward situations

Waking up on the first day, a  “don’t talk, don’t talk,” mantra echoed over and over in my head. What I didn’t know was how challenging the week was actually going to be. I’ve always been a people person and not engaging with others proved to be difficult. My mum couldn’t even take me seriously, watching me attempt to communicate through hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions.

When alone, my inner struggle to not speak became even worse because I am used to talking to myself. Now to be honest maybe a few words did slip out on the first or second day… Shhh! And being forbidden from singing along to the radio was just heartbreaking; only being able to lip-sync to Whitey Houston’s greatest hits was something I vow never to do again. Never.

During the week I did spent a lot of time around people. Flashing bright smiles and giving thumbs up to everyone; I was like a real-life walking emoticon! Being silent quickly became second nature; being lost in translation was my only problem. Lip-reading really isn’t a common talent among many as I discovered, and so I reverted to using my IPhone notes as means to ‘talk’.

© Sarah Joy

© Sarah Joy

To my own surprise, I gained a strong public reaction from my act of standing up for those suffering in silence. A curious, young girl came up to me, and my mum explained to her what I was doing.  The little girl was stunned and began to ask questions about human trafficking, and people in slavery. I realised, in that moment, how much of a difference I could make by raising awareness of these important issues to even young children!

Adults too were influenced by my act of silence; an Arabian women took a photo of my sign, then asked me to type what it said into Google translate, so she could understand it in her own language. Who would have thought that I could say so much more and have such a major impact on people without even having to say anything at all?

I never expected some much generosity and goodwill would come from this little fundraising campaign; through both online donations and in person; this support truly helped me get through my seven days of silence. I raised over $600 and I proved that I could be quiet for longer than 30 seconds. I would do it again. Maybe for a year next time.

>>> Learn more about Ocean’s challenge here! <<<

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