When the Quiet Ones Roar

I sometimes feel that people misunderstand. Not about me necessarily. Communication doesn’t come easily for any of us, but it’s especially difficult for the quiet folk. When the quiet ones roar, it often comes out as a meow, if even that.

I come from a family of “do-it-yourselfers.” We were all independent, which is why I broke my arm at four years old. I was the big girl and could do it by myself. I grew up being proud of my independence. My low maintenance came later in life. Somewhere along the line, my interpretation of my independence was to not ask for anything. To not protest or complain. I was the girlfriend who didn’t need you to call her all the time. The wife who didn’t want to complain about the toilet lid and the hair stubble in the sink. I didn’t cry over needles or bugs or small drama. I scoffed when others did. Dammit! I was proud of that.

Truth: Independence doesn’t equal not needing or wanting. Introversion doesn’t either. It only means we find our inner life, our thoughts, and feelings, are more captivating than all the outside drama the others have going on. Jersey Shore, Kardashians or whatever reality T.V. show holds not a drop of drama more enticing than the fantasy going on in my head. We are like cockroaches. We can survive on remarkably little outside emotional support. But that doesn’t mean we don’t desire it sometimes. When we are cared for and loved in the best of environments, we blossom into the Grace Kelleys, the Johnny Carsons, and the Meryl Streeps of this world.

We want the compliments

The quiet one in the corner of the room will light up like a child watching the Christmas day parade if you compliment her, but all she might say is “Thank you.” Givers of compliments sometimes mistake that for arrogance. Or indifference. The truth is the quiet one doesn’t know how to express her thanks or to encourage more compliments. It doesn’t mean that she didn’t feel like a beauty queen for that moment. We want the compliments. We want our day as prom queen or the Belle of the ball. Look at Cinderella. You can’t get a better example of what almost every girl wants.

059a949e2bb16ae2647b2a9dc8010640It’s easy to know what most girls want. Or at least what they don’t want. Quiet ones need coaxing as they express their needs. The trouble is, that’s not likely to happen. Not many see the need. Because the quiet one can’t express her needs, only the loudest one gets heard. It’s not that no one is listening even. Yes, there are those that don’t care what others want, but I have found that there are those that did care, but I never spoke up.

I’m on a mission to teach speech to the speechless, to give voice to the voiceless. If all you think you can ask for at this time is just cinnamon gum instead of wintergreen, then speak up. There’s a group of people who are listening. I know you’re there. I’ve met you in the store. I’ve talked to you at church. We’ve spoken on the internet. In the quiet whisper at night. In the tear that drops from your eye. You have spoken. Now it is time to voice those desires.

You see, sometimes it hurts. It hurts to ask for something knowing that you will either be ignored or told to hush. Not now. Later. It isn’t your time. We learn early that those in charge don’t care. Sounds harsh? From a child’s perspective, it seems true. The parents are overwhelmed with living and surviving. Some children realize this and will move their wants down farther on the list.

We are not children anymore.

I don’t mean to assume that only girls are struggling with this issue. Not true! My writing is affected by my personal experience. Feel free to throw in some male perspective. My latest read is Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome by Ruth Simone

Introvert Malfunctioning

Do the thing that scares you, that’s the advice I’ve read over and over. And I, the introvert, have believed the mantra. I believed the mantra because as an introvert I function backwards in society. I push myself  to take more action than I am comfortable with.

I remember when my mom, who is an extrovert, constantly reminded me to say thank you and please, like most parents do. It was difficult at that time to get the words to come out of my mouth. I’d watch my older brother and think, he always says thank you; why is it so difficult for me? So in my mind, Difficult = Correct.

Somewhere in my 40’s my brain wiring malfunctioned. And it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve delicately reassembled my interfacing, attaching wires in my head to where I think they should be connected. And guess what, I’m still an introvert. I’m an introvert who has learned to respond as an extrovert to society, but with all the fear and discomfort of being an introvert.

Being an introvert is not a malfunction. I must reconsider all of my earlier beliefs and this is one of them, do the thing that scares you. I get it. I know what they’re saying. It’s a quick way of pinpointing what you really want. But sometimes it’s okay to not do that thing. It’s okay to step back and decide, is it necessary to do this? Because sometimes, Correct = Not difficult.

Taking the plunge

Maybe that’s the problem.

Perhaps it’s better to commit to wading instead.

Ship, sure. Not the giant life-changing, risk-it-all-venture, but the small.

When you do a small thing, when you finish it, polish it, put it into the world, you’ve made something. You’ve committed and you’ve finished.

And then you can do it again, but louder. And larger.

It’s easy to be afraid of taking a plunge, because, after all, plunging is dangerous. And the fear is a safe way to do nothing at all.

Wading, on the other hand, gets under the radar. It gives you a chance to begin. – Seth Godin