I have always been labeled as “quiet” for my whole life. In school, I was always the quiet girl. I was sometimes called “shy”, but that was by people who didn’t know the difference between being quiet and being shy. Shyness implies that I fear social situations; quietness is just that, I don’t tend to talk a lot–especially if I don’t know you. While it’s true that I’m not a really social person, (meaning I could care less most of the time about hanging out with a ton of people I’m acquainted with but don’t really feel any close connection to at all), I’m not afraid of doing so and merely choose not to for the most part. I’d rather be at home reading a book, doing a puzzle, painting, or talking to just one other person that I would claim as a best friend (and I have a handful of those!).
I bet, if you got right down to it, my family would also tell you I’m quiet. Honestly, it wasn’t until my college years that I felt a little more outgoing to some of my own family. Mainly, I’m thinking of my cousin, Shellie. Not that I’m crazy outgoing now, but I feel my outside personality has finally begun to match my inside personality a little better.
Which is just sad. Especially when it’s your own family.
And I wish I could say why I’m this way, but all I can think of is this is how God made me. And yes, if given the option to be able to change any part of my personality, it would be this quietness. I feel like it’s such a hindrance sometimes, but I can’t seem to get rid of it. Like tonight, for example. I’m at my weekly Bible study. Granted, I wanted to pick a Bible study because of what the topic is and not if my friends are in the class (and also the time and location, since I live further away from all the people I go to church with). So everyone in this class is much older than I am, and there are some very extroverted, loud people in the group, whom I adore, but they dominate the conversations. And I retreat back to doing what I always do, sitting and listening. I do feel like I’m getting something out of it, but I hate that I just sit there like a bump on a log. I have thoughts. I have observations. But does anyone ever hear them? No way. They don’t hear a peep. After it’s over, I leave, feeling down on myself because I can’t seem to get it in a word edgewise. I hate, hate, HATE it!
I hate being labeled as the quiet girl. People have already begun to do it at this church, which, by the way, does NOT make people feel good about themselves…especially when you introduce me to new people by that preface. (Extroverts sure are quick to do that; “Hey look at the person who doesn’t shout out everything that pops into their brain! They’re different!” Duh. Thanks for pointing that out.) I’m sick of all the extroverts yelling at the top of their lungs while the quiet people drink it all in, mull things over, and come up with great ideas and thoughts that only themselves and God will ever hear. It’s been like that my whole life. If you have a dominating personality and I don’t feel like we’ve hit it off with a one-on-one conversation at some point to make me feel like you care about my thoughts, etc., chances are I’m going to be quiet around you. I may think you’re awesome, but the truth is, you’ll probably miss out on anything I might say because I don’t feel like you genuinely care. That’s just the way it is. Did I mention that I HATE that?
There are several positive and negative things associated with this disability (and yes, it is disabling). For instance, the positive is that I take a long time to think about things and tend to have a more thought out answer and explanation when you ask me about something. I can rule out stupid things I might have otherwise blurted out without thinking, and I have a pretty excellent filter on my word choices. In fact, if there’s something that happens to slip past this “filter”, like a word or joke that I’m not sure will be well received by the audience, I tend to mutter it very quietly. I’ve noticed some of my closer friends catch these and respond to them sometimes, as if I’d said it at normal volume…it kind of amuses me when this happens because that, to me, means I have an excellent friend on my hands. You know I do this and have taught yourself to listen for it.
Another positive from being so quiet is that I feel like I can quickly read people and know how they’re feeling without them telling me. I think I am overly sensitive. I mean, like almost too sensitive (which can be a positive or negative). I try really hard to think about how my actions or circumstances in general make people feel and sometimes I feel I begin to carry their problems with me; on the other hand, I can empathize really well with people. But this, coupled with my conflict avoidance sometimes leads me to keeping feelings inside, making me feel unable to let it out and feel better while at the same time, making everyone else see this pathetic, sad version of myself that no one understands. It almost feels like trying to hold your breath, only it won’t make you pass out; it just makes you feel horrible and doesn’t help anyone.
I know all our imperfections will be fixed when we reach Heaven, and I sure hope that includes personality defects…or at least personality quirks that most people don’t know how to accept or interact with on this Earth. That’ll be the day.