I’m not ashamed of being quiet anymore

A student reflects on growing up as a quiet person and how they began embracing their quietness instead of changing that part of themself.


“Why are you so quiet?”

I’ve been asked this throughout my life because my quietness is one of the first things people notice about me. I never knew how to respond because I didn’t know why I’m so quiet.

“I don’t know, I just am.”

I barely contribute to group discussions or raise my hand in class, and only talk when I’m spoken to. My quietness negatively affected the way I viewed myself and my relationships. 

I thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t add to conversations or make friends easily. I wondered why it was difficult for me to be outgoing when other people my age made friends effortlessly.

During recess, everyone would play games or chat with one another while I’d walk around the playground alone, wishing I could be more talkative like everyone else.

I’ve always struggled to form friendships because people don’t bother getting to really know me. Most people think I’m rude or uninterested in what they say, but that is far from the truth. I love seeing people’s eyes light up when they describe what they’re passionate about.

However, they have no interest in learning about my hobbies, favorite artists, what’s made me laugh recently, none of it. People rarely ask, and if they do, they usually think my interests are silly or quickly change the subject.

Once in middle school, a popular girl offered to help me fit in more, which I immediately accepted. She gave me tips on clothes and makeup to wear and advice on being more outgoing. I hung around her friends to try to fit in with them and not be by myself anymore.

After a while, I realized that she was trying to turn me into her, and these “friends” didn’t know the real me because they never asked about my interests. I soon returned to being quiet and keeping to myself.

Teachers often told my mom they wished I’d speak up in class. Although she came to my defense and explained to teachers that I’m naturally quiet, she wished I could be more outgoing and worried about my ability to make friends.

“No one will be your friend if you keep to yourself,” she’d often tell me, and it made me less confident in my ability to make friends. Although my mom was quiet growing up and could relate to my experience, it would’ve improved my self-esteem if she didn’t look down on my introverted personality.

In high school, I tried exploring different interests and talking more in conversations, but several of my high school peers from middle school already knew me as the quiet kid. I eventually stopped trying to change because I felt confined to only being seen as quiet.

While I’ve always had a few friends who didn’t mind my quietness, I felt envious of extroverted people. I’m lucky to have friends patient enough to get to know me beyond being quiet, but I’ve questioned if they’re better off around talkative people because I feel like I’m not as fun to be with.

Despite the negative perception I’ve had towards not talking as much as others, I began seeing positive aspects of it from other quiet people on social media last year. Quiet people are better listeners and their words carry more meaning because they don’t talk as much.

Seeing this new perspective made me understand there wasn’t anything wrong with me, but I overlooked the good qualities that come from being quiet. I love hearing my friends ramble about what’s on their minds, and my friends cherish my words because there’s more thought behind what I say.

After numerous attempts to be more talkative, I realized trying to be someone I’m not is draining, and friendships I gain from a fake version of myself won’t last. Beyond my quiet nature, I love exploring music genres, attempting to bake and being a parent to three cats and a rabbit.

I may not say much, but there’s more to me than being quiet that the right people will learn about. Negative perceptions of quietness still get to me sometimes, but I’m more accepting of it and know the best relationships will come from those who fully accept me.

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