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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Quietness

My whole life I've been described as quiet. Sometimes when I was younger, it was interchangeable with shy but mostly, it was quiet. From my first school parents evening until the last, (with only one exception when I finally had a teacher who understood and while she agreed, she didn't call it a negative as every single other teacher had), I was described as quiet. It reached the point where my Mum would often open with 'We know, she's quiet' and they would laugh or just agree. My parents found it funny because in their words 'At home she never shuts up'. Often during these parents evenings, the teachers would try to give me tips on how to improve. It was without a doubt a failing to most of them. They'd ask me to 'simply' put my hand up just once per class. They'd try and make me laugh about it. They'd try to appeal to me, say that if I didn't talk, how would they know how I was doing? (It didn't take long for me to think 'Not my problem, find a way, accept that every student isn't exactly the same). None of it worked, and by the time I left school, I'd long accepted that I wasn't going to change, mainly because I had no desire to. I'd stressed myself out plenty over the years trying to change because everyone told me I should, because it suited them better. I wish I'd realised earlier that it really wasn't my problem.

Even now I'm described as quiet at work. It's less often said as a negative now, luckily. I've come to realise that a big part of why people say that is basically because I don't talk about myself much. I don't feel the need to blather on about my life to anyone that will listen. Once I realised that, I realised just how many people do do that. It isn't always a bad thing. I mean, sometimes I do listen to people talk, the ones who really do go on and on about their lives, every tiny detail of every 'drama' going on in their lives, and I wonder how they have the confidence to do it. I'm not jealous, because I often find it boring, but I wonder how they can do it. If I talk even a bit to most people, there's a commentary in my head telling me no-one wants to hear it, it's a shock when they do. This isn't just a case of low self-esteem, often it does seem to be the case. Anyone who's fairly quiet, and plenty of people who aren't, can tell you that people who are loud or talk a lot will just happily interrupt and talk over you like they are the only person worth listening to. (They usually aren't.) I've also been called boring to my face, although that was because that person thinks someone who doesn't drink or do drugs is boring, and it made it really easy to remove her from my life.

It's also because I really don't enjoy small talk. I'm incapable of talking about the weather for more than a sentence. The things I am good at talking about, writing, certain TV shows that aren't crappy reality ones, mental health, basically what I write about here, most people don't want to talk about. I'm also just comfortable with silence, I don't have a need for conversation or to fill the silence, I'd rather sit quietly than have the stress of talking.

People make a lot of assumptions when you don't say a lot. A lot of people do assume I must be a boring person who has nothing to say. Like the time when I mentioned to my then-Manager that we'd had Indian take out the night before and I'd had a Korma (first one in ten years). He laughed and said 'Of course you had a Korma, I knew that's what you'd like.' Translation: 'You must only eat mild food because you don't brag all the time about eating spicy stuff like I do'. Or the time when one of my colleagues said that he couldn't get his head around all of my tattoos, they didn't fit with his image of me. Or when someone on a training course with me asked about my writing, and the next day he said he thought he found my stuff, but there was no way it could be me because there were stories about a lesbian biker gang. The room came to a goddamn standstill because no-one could believe it. He was expecting boring literary crap instead.

So, if you're a quiet person, don't take any crap from other people. It's OK to be quiet, no matter what the reason. You should only make changes if you're unhappy, and experiencing distress.
If you're one of the people who gives crap to quiet people, no matter how minor the crap, I hope you'll reconsider that now.

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