Monday, April 02, 2012

the quiet one

Shoot, I guess I should post or something. Oh, I know! Here's something I wrote for my English class that actually received a decent grade. With some edits.

I am the quiet one. I’ve always been the quiet one. It’s what teachers say with a well-intentioned smile. It’s what my friends call me, only half-jokingly. It’s what strangers, the kind ones, must think of me when everyone else is socializing and I’m just sitting back, staring at my cuticles. 

My friend and I were talking recently when she joked that I could become mute and no one would notice for a week. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but it wouldn’t have been funny if it wasn’t rooted in truth. And the truth is, I am quiet.

It stems from shyness, from being afraid. I’m not quiet because I don’t like people. On the contrary, I like them so much I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing. And, adding on to that, small talk isn’t my thing. I prefer not to talk unless I have something to say. I’d rather listen than speak, and I’d rather sit by myself than get up to join a group of people I don’t know. I’m not just quiet. I’m shy. The two go hand in hand in my case.

It’s not that I want to be quiet. Out of all the traits out there, ‘quiet’ isn’t one you necessarily want to list on your resume. It’s not a bad thing, though, or at least it shouldn’t be. There’s nothing inherently wrong with not wanting to talk. There are plenty of times I find myself wishing everyone else would be a bit quieter. 

But the world, in case you hadn’t noticed, seems to favor extroversion. School depends heavily upon interaction. Group projects, presentations, class discussions are all things that make me tense and they are all things I am expected to participate in. School is not for the quiet, and neither, I’m told, is real life. 

It’s hard being quiet. The actual not talking part is beyond easy. It’s natural. It’s comfortable. But the implications of that not talking aren’t always great. Society tends to value those who are outspoken, confident, and brave. The ones who are friendly and talkative. As for those of us who prefer for whatever reason to keep to ourselves, we are the ones destined to be wallflowers.

That’s not, of course, to say there aren’t advantages to being quiet. For one thing, you get to continually surprise people. With some individuals, you know their entire life story before you even know their name, but quiet people are revealed more slowly, in layers. Maybe it’s weird, but I enjoy it when people look at me and say things like, “I didn’t know you played the guitar. That’s so cool!” Well, yeah, that’s because I don’t mention it, but thanks. 

I am quiet, but perhaps as a result of this, every little interaction means more to me. A smile, a wave, a quick question. It means a lot to me when people take the time to talk to me. I may not talk a lot, but when I do, it’s more significant. 

There are times, every day, when I wish I was louder, when I wish I talked more. If this was something I could change easily, believe me, I would. There are so many things I wish I could say that pile in my brain. Things I could say, things I would say, if only I had the guts. Just because I don’t initiative a conversation with someone doesn’t mean I don’t want to. 

Other people are defined by other adjectives. They’re pretty, loud, funny, obnoxious, smart...all manner of words. And me, I’m quiet.


  1. you stole this from my mind, i swear.
    -jocee <3

  2. This is me too. I've never really been able to put it in words did it beautifully.

  3. This is what I think all the time. Just yesterday, one of my teachers commented that I never talk, and "it scares her." Why should it be scary if I don't talk? Everyone says, "It's always the quiet ones" and then smirks at me, as if because I don't always speak my mind I'm going to become a serial killer. I think more people need to read what you wrote.

  4. This is me exactly! Every word you wrote I was like "That's me!"


  5. this. is so. me.
    seriously, what grade did you get for this, because i think it would make a great beginning of a novel.


  6. kendall, I know I don't comment on your blog a lot, but I really should because almost every time I read a post of yours, I think we just might be twins. this is so true.

  7. I can relate to this 110% (although I may be slightly obnoxious around friends ;)). Beautiful, beautiful writing though! :)

  8. You may be quiet, but that trait lends itself into you being insightful - and that leads you to be the great writer that you are. (Same goes for my sister:) Wonderful post Kendall!


  9. This sounds like me a lot more recently... A few months ago, I was pretty much the person who wouldn't be quiet and excelled at oral presentations and group projects and such, but lately, I've just totally invisible to the world... ._. It's kind of nice sometimes, mostly for all the reasons you listed. ^_^ I couldn't have said it anywhere near as wonderfully as you did! Beautiful work. ;)



Hey, you. Be nice.