Speak up! We can't hear you
Being the ‘quiet one’ in life has its perks. It’s not all doom and gloom. For example, you can form opinions about things without voicing and offending people; you can daydream about literally anything you want because nobody will notice - they’ll just think you’re being your usual quiet self; and, lastly, you can gather up everyone’s secrets and use them to your advantage at any point you like. Just kidding. You’re probably way too shy to do that (especially if you’re like me!)
I have been branded ‘The Quiet One’ in my friendship group, and my family, ever since I was born, and began making friends. People (mostly family members that I probably see about twice a year) always say ‘wow you’re so shy!’ or ‘you’re so quiet!’ or, my personal favourite, ‘come and join in our conversation!’ Join in your conversation? You’re moaning about how your husband doesn’t do anything around the house, about what you’re planning for your kids’ birthday party, and how you’re getting on at Slimming World? Do you really expect me to join in with your rant even though there’s nothing relatable attaching me to the conversation? No thanks, Brenda. I’ll pass. You just carry on moaning about the economy and making jokes about how I must have got 30% off when I brought my jeans because of the holes in them.
I used to think being The Quiet One was a bad thing. I looked at outgoing and confident people, and thought why can’t I be like that? It frustrated me that I was incapable of striking up casual conversation with someone, that I was severely socially awkward, both online and in person, and that social interaction made me uncomfortable. The truth is, I love people. I love watching their behaviour, I love to hear others talk. What I don’t like is being forced to think up a conversation which I know is going to be awkward form start to finish. It gives me great anxiety, and that’s the reason I used to avoid social interaction with anyone I wasn’t really close with.
I know it sounds contradictory - how can I have really close friends if I don’t like social interaction? The truth is, I gained friends because they were patient enough to wait for me to come out of my shell a bit. They would talk to me and guide the conversations so that I could answer as I pleased. I may not like the initial interaction with new people, but once I’m your friend, and I trust you, I can be the loudest person you know. It just takes time for me to strike up the courage to lead a conversation.
A few years ago, I read the novel The Perks Of Being a Wallflower. Despite the fact that the narrator of the story is autistic, I did relate to it. One line, that is most probably my favourite out of all of them, is this:
“He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”
I thought about this, and I my attention was also focused on the way that the other characters in the novel treated the main narrator. They understood that he was shy and reserved. They accepted that he was a wallflower. They were still his friend, even though he wasn’t outgoing. They accepted him for who he is.
That was when I understood. Being The Quiet One doesn’t mean that your friends don’t accept and love you, and it equally doesn’t mean that you can’t make friends, either. It just means you struggle a little bit with the whole friendship process, but that’s okay. If you’re The Quiet One in your family and your friendship group, it is okay. People still accept and appreciate you. You are still a valued member of the group. Everyone has their own qualities to bring to the table in any relationship. And you bring a stable tranquillity through the use of silence and observance. The thing about us quiet people is that we think we aren’t noticed, because of that factor. But, sometimes, we are noticed more because we’re not constantly talking. Everyone seems so hasty to talk about themselves, but it us who stand out because we are the listeners. Sometimes, that is our most intriguing quality. We see things. We keep quiet about them. And we understand. We are the wallflowers. And we are loved in spite of it.
The articles here are written by guest writers or previous TWE members.