Are You Too Quiet?

Are You Too Quiet?

Are You Too Quiet?You’re too quiet! Speak up. Project. I can’t hear you. Participate more. Anybody in there?!  

These are the messages quiet children hear. I received them everywhere, from teachers, friends, parents of friends, acquaintances.  

The emotionally hungry, eager to understand what could make someone’s voice so internal. Eager to devour those differences and make those perceived as vulnerable operate on their terms. Terms they understand, terms they’ve deemed the norm, the ideal. 

Each time I heard these messages, I resented them. I didn’t want to talk. Being asked to felt like an invasion. An invasion of my space, of my internal dialogue. A dialogue I wanted to share even less when talking was being demanded of me. 

I often sat and watched while outgoing children got praised and adored for their fiery attention-grabbing personalities. Personalities I envied but knew I could never possess, as my cells, at the time, rejected the mere thought of it.

One of my earliest memories as a child was of my kindergarten teacher yelling at me for not responding to her questions and then making me sit in the corner. I remember staring at her and taking her in as she looked down at me with frustration. And I remember feeling like words were not an option. 

I wasn’t being defiant. I wasn’t trying to cause trouble. I was simply living my truth.   

My truth at the time was internal. And it was sensitive. And intimidated. And shy. Quiet. 

I carried this truth into adulthood. I changed a lot, found my voice in many ways, but the quiet side of me remained, even throughout college and law school. To all but those who knew me well. 

I sat in the back. I kept my hand down. I wrote things down. And I listened. 

And I learned how to hear the things that words don’t say. 

The whispers spoken with our eyes or the delicate movements of fingers and corners of lips. The loudness of animated looks and exaggerated  gestures. The sereneness of the humble confidence. The posturing of overcompensation. The tensions of attraction. The subtleties of suppressed annoyance. The animation of pure joy. The uneasy air of the unsettled. The truth and generosity of the truly present.

Looking back on my quiet past, my only regret is the shame I inflicted upon myself for feeling like I was too quiet. For feeling like that was a flaw.  

Because it is in our quietness that we can find our deepest truths.

quietness

It’s quietness that sharpened my emotional intelligence. That deepened my ability to empathize on deep cellular levels. That taught me to create safe spaces for myself and others.

And it’s from that quietness that I now challenge myself to think on a higher level, above my circumstances and insecurities, to find the real truth in any situation, to uncover life’s emotional mysteries.  

And as I grew out of my shyness, through deep rooted self-love and appreciation realignments, it is my quietness that I look back on and thank for making me who I am.  

Have you ever been accused of being too quiet? 

 

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23 Responses to Are You Too Quiet?

  1. Jo Ireson says:

    I wish I could go back and read this to my six-year-old self.

  2. Thank you! I feel as if I have written that!

  3. Leanne says:

    Oh how I related to every word of this! I too feel my only regret now is the shame I put myself through over being quiet, actually avoiding social events I would’ve enjoyed because I didn’t want to force myself to talk. Now I talk if I want and I stay quiet if I want and other people need to just deal with it. So glad I’m not the only one!

  4. jc says:

    Although I have not experienced many of the feelings you discuss in your writing I am very appreciative that I have been exposed to this perspective. I was one of the many that didn’t understand those that chose to remain reserved. I used to make a concerted effort to try to bring others into the fold in social and business settings by directing questions their way or goosing them on with good-hearted encouragement. What I have come to realize after being educated and taking some time for self reflection is that the ‘favor’ I thought I was doing those that chose to be more reserved was on my terms, not there’s, regardless of how well intentioned I may have been.

    I am now more conscious of other people’s individual approach to given circumstances, and I enjoy observing how others chose to engage in social interaction – in all of its forms. I now take note who chooses to be out front and who prefers to stay on the perimeter and I can readily understand why people may deliberately choose that posture. Moreover, I value each perspective as we all bring something valuable to the table, often most significantly in our differences.

    I have no doubt that I have personally benefited from learning about the feelings and perspectives you write about, Liz, and I thank you for being the voice for all of those that couldn’t or chose not to make it clear to me in the past.

    Keep it up!….when you’re ready to, of course.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks for reading and being open to a new perspective. Sounds like you always keep your heart in the right place and I’m sure all those you encounter are always appreciative 🙂 xo

  5. Dori says:

    So well written even this usually quiet woman who reads and thinks and nods in understanding, but doesn’t always write a response…will. Every word you wrote resonates with me. Just as Jo said, I wish I could go back and read this to my 6-year old self and certainly later to the young teen-aged me! Thank you for putting into words what so many of us have shared. 🙂

    • Liz says:

      Dori, I so appreciate you stepping out of your comfort zone to leave a comment! I often just read and nod in understanding myself, not shocking I’m sure 😉 Thank you for reading! xo

  6. Llinos says:

    I am shy and proud. Thanks for sharing this; I used to be ashamed of being quiet, but now I know I am making my mark in other ways 🙂

  7. […] “Have you ever been accused of being too quiet?” Well, yes, I have. Perhaps quiet people are just living their own truth. […]

  8. Michelle says:

    Was very touched by what you wrote as just the other day I was told I wasn’t “fun” by a close extrovert. I am starting to appreciate that being quiet is just a part of who I am and not feeling ashamed about it anymore.

    • Liz says:

      I’m so sorry you were told that Michelle, I think a lot of quiet people have heard that comment before. Keep appreciating who you are, quiet is beautiful! xo

  9. Faiz Alam says:

    Liz you are a superb writer…

  10. Roopa says:

    Could really relate to this article. Glad to know that I am not alone 🙂 Thanks so much for posting it! Looking forward to more posts..

  11. Theresa Spero says:

    Thank You so much for this blog i am learning who i am and going to embrace it. have been fighting myself for years asking what is wrong with me why don’t i want to be around people ( Introvert) & quiet so I decided to do a search today and found out a lot about me today!!! going to find out so much more now that my mind is free of all these questions!!!!!

  12. […] Yet it’s our softness that we often view as the culprit. We’re not tough enough. Our skin isn’t thick enough. Our voice isn’t loud enough. […]

  13. Great Lines “Because it is in our quietness that we can find our deepest truths.”
    Well written post.

  14. […] If I were to write my own follow up to this piece it would focus solely on the importance of reframing the way shy people feel about themselves, as well as the way the world responds to shyness.  […]

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