Thank you to all the people who ever pointed out that I am quiet because I really couldn’t have figured that out on my own. Okay…that sounds kind of rude, but it really is surprising how often people have called this to my attention. It used to really break me down when someone reminded me that I’m quiet, shy or an introvert. It made me feel weird or abnormal. It’s really only since I’ve had children that I’ve realized there is no such thing as “normal” and being “weird” also makes you interesting. I’ve also realized that most people don’t mean to be rude; they are just trying to fill the silence.
For as long as I can remember my usual tendencies to be quiet and reserved are speckled with the occasional desire to be an extrovert, in an extreme center of attention kind of way. During these times I enjoy socialize and going out in crowds. Usually, these moods strike when I’m inspired by something or I need to prove a point to myself. I’ll make plans and schedule meetings. Sometimes I even call someone instead of texting (Gasp!). Once in a while, I’ll randomly introduce myself to someone or talk to a stranger. A similar occasional urge to do something extroverted was described in a great piece by Vincent Mars, The Benefits of Being an Introvert.
The extroverted mood can last a few hours or a few weeks. Without fail, it comes to a crashing end and I withdraw. Accordingly, I avoid human contact (other than my family, who I can’t avoid) for a few days. I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to communicate almost entirely by email. I can go days or weeks at a time without having to talk to anyone. When I’m not talking, my brain is actively thinking, daydreaming, analyzing, and calculating.
I am writing this piece because my daughters’ teachers have been telling me how “quiet” they are all the time. While I know being quiet is not a bad thing, it is still considered a “concern” for some. I try to teach my kids to ignore labels and not to feel pressure to change who they are. Striving to go against your natural personality is exhausting and takes away from your natural gifts. Instead of resisting who you are, find your strengths. I tell them “the next time someone calls you quiet, say ‘Thank you, I was just thinking’, and I will do the same.”
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