Truth- I am a quiet person. But I hate when others call me quiet. I’m not exactly sure why; it’s not like “quiet” is an insult. It’s not a bad thing to be quiet. In fact, I think the world could use more quiet people. However, whenever I get labeled as “quiet,” I instantly get defensive.
Here are a few reasons why:
You Get Perceived as Stuck-Up and/or Boring
When you’re quiet, others tend to come up with their own ideas about you. It’s usually a negative idea- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I was scared to talk to you until I met you!” I guess when I’m quiet, I can unintentionally seem unfriendly. I have no idea why I come off this way, and I always try to put a pleasant expression on my face (and not stay in a constant “resting bitch” mode).
However, when you’re relaxing or observing those around you, you can’t control your features. When people point out my quietness, I automatically worry that they thought I was a bore, or a mean girl. And then, I try to quickly dispel those notions as fast as possible. It doesn’t help that I care way too much about what people think.
You are Automatically “Second Place” to Loud People
I encountered this a lot in school growing up. When you’re labelled as the quiet one, teachers constantly pass you over in favor of the “loud” types. These are the ones always chosen to answer questions and be praised by the teacher for their work. It’s not anyone’s fault- everyone naturally gravitates to the extroverts in the room. However, it’s hard knowing you’ll never measure up, just because you’re a bit more subdued.
Quiet, in my case, does not equal shy. Yes, it means I’m an introvert and don’t particularly like attention, but it also means I’d like to be noticed just as much any other person. So, when I get called quiet, I know that there’s a chance I’ll fade into the background like a wallflower, while others who are louder steal the spotlight. I’m having a harder time finding my voice in work situations where being loud is a necessity.
It Makes Me Even More Quiet and Insecure
When I get called “quiet,” I don’t automatically change into a loud person. In fact, pointing out my quietness will make me clam up even more. I try too hard to think of things to say, to prove that person wrong, that I end up just keeping my mouth shut the whole time.
Story time: once I was with a group of friends. I was enjoying myself, but wasn’t saying much. One of my friends said to me, loudly, “Arielle, geez, stop being so loud!” It was clearly sarcastic, and made me so embarrassed. The whole group heard. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, or what was being implied- do I suddenly talk louder? Do I insist I’m having a good time? Do I try to explain why I’m quiet?
Most of the time I don’t have a reason for being quiet- that’s just who I am. It was an awkward situation, so here’s some advice for you louder readers out there- when someone is quiet, please don’t make them feel embarrassed for it. It doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying your company.
I Start to Doubt My Ability to Speak Up
In the end, when someone calls me “quiet,” I start doubting my whole personality. What if I’m just terrible at voicing my opinions, and should never speak in public again? What if I just get ignored? Is it worse to get ignored, or to get called quiet?
I don’t have any answers. I know most of this is all in my head, and that I overthink too much. I can’t change the fact that I’m quiet. I can’t change that I’m a quiet girl in a noisy world. However, I can change how I react to the word “quiet”. Writing helps me find my voice, and with it, peace. I know with writing, I can finally be heard the way I want to.
For anyone else who thinks of themselves as quiet, I strongly recommend the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s really insightful, and makes me feel less alone.
Do you identify as quiet? How do you react to being called out on it? Do you have quiet friends?
Hugs and Fishes,