Quiet Rantings of My Mind

“You’re too quiet.”

This comment and others like it have plagued me almost all my life. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that I needed to come out of my shell, to be livelier, or to talk more. As a child and teenager, I allowed these remarks to hurt me deeply. I was already a tad shy than others but I became even more self-conscious as I was constantly aware of people waiting for me to speak.

This would make me just want to crawl back into my shell and hide. I became more and more reserved. The older I got, the angrier I became. Each time someone told me I was “too quiet,” I wondered what exactly they were hoping to achieve anyway. Did they imagine I had a magic button I could press that would turn me into a talking machine? I felt I should be accepted as I was, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. There was only one thing for it; I would have to become the extrovert the world wanted me to be, but how?

A strategy to avoid all this was to attach myself to a more outgoing friend. I did this at school and to certain extent in college, and later when I began to travel a lot in my early twenties. Although I didn’t do it consciously, wherever I went I would make friends with someone much louder than me. Then I’d become their little sidekick, going everywhere with them, trying to fit in with all their friends, and even adopting aspects of their personality. And then, at times, I just tried faking it but failed miserably. It seemed that I was doomed. I would never be accepted. Being a naturally loud person was the only way to be liked. Or maybe not. Over the years, I’ve spoken to several talkative, extroverted people who’ve been told they’re too loud or that they talk too much. It seems whatever personality you’ve got you’re always going to be “too much” of something for someone. I came to think, what really matters is: do you think you need to change? My shyness has made some areas of my life more difficult. It’s something I’ve been working on all my life and I always will be, in order to do all the things I want to do. 

However, I’ve realized I’m always going to be an introvert, which is not the same thingI enjoy going out and socializing, but I also enjoy being alone. When I am working, I talk to people all day, every day. I like my job, but as an introvert, I get tired after all that interaction, so later I need some quiet time to “recharge my batteries.” I can overcome my shyness. I can’t overcome my introversion, but actually, I wouldn’t want to because I’m happy being this way. While I’m still shy, I no longer worry about it.  When speaking to new people, if something comes out wrong or I get my words mixed up, I just laugh to myself about my nervousness rather telling myself how weird the other person must’ve thought I was. In the past I was terrified of any form of public speaking. Now, there are days when my job involves getting up in front of people and talking. So I think I’m doing alright. No, I don’t understand why I can’t just be like that with everyone, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do.

When you’re always being told you’re too much of this or not enough of that, it’s easy to start thinking you have to be grateful that anyone is willing to spend time with you. I used to put up with friends who treated me badly because I thought if I stood up for myself, I’d lose their friendship and I’d end up all alone. Eventually, in the last few months, I did stand up for myself and my worst fear came true. I was and am left completely friendless.

But you know what? It is okay. The time alone taught me to enjoy my own company, and gave me the chance to learn more about myself.  One positive quality in me, I believe, is that I’m a good listener, so anyone who wants to talk to me if they have a problem comes to me because I think they know I’m not going to tell anyone. Rather, I’d just listen. Quietly. 

I’ve stopped trying to make everyone like me and I’ve stopped trying to be something I’m not. As a result, any changes in my character happen naturally as my confidence continues to grow.  When you learn to accept yourself, you’re likely to find that others will accept you too. But if they don’t, it really doesn’t matter.

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