Why Are You Being So Quiet?
Molly wished she was home. She was standing at the edge of the room, sipping her Diet Coke and watching everyone else dance on the dance floor, the purple, pink, and blue lights flashing brightly and hurting her eyes. The music and chatter was too loud for her. She could barely hear herself think. One of her friends came over to Molly and screamed, “Hey Molly! Come and dance with us! You’ve been standing there all night!” Molly shook her head. It was all just too much for her. She wondered why she had come to the party in the first place.
Tim had his legs up on a chair, and he was leaned back comfortably on his own chair. His lunch sat on the table, and he would take a bite of his burrito every now and then. He was browsing different websites on his phone, laughing at some dumb memes. Everywhere around him, all the other kids were talking, laughing, and chatting while eating their lunch. The noise was deafening, but Tim barely heard. A few of his friends walked past, and one of them nudged Tim. “Hey, what the heck are you doing?” Tim looked up, confused. “Memes?” His friend rolled his eyes. “Whatever, dude. I don’t get why you don’t sit with us.” They all walked off angrily. Tim turned his phone off, no longer happy. He didn’t mean to ignore his friends. He sighed and wondered what was wrong with him.
Sarah giggled and gossiped with her three friends as they walked through the busy mall and looked at the window displays. They were each carrying bags from different stores and were happily chatting the hours away. Well, all except one. Sarah was bubbly and excited on the outside, but inside, she was exhausted. This outing had lasted for three hours so far, and she felt like that was enough for her. She didn’t want to upset her friends, though, so she pretended she was having fun. The truth was, she couldn’t wait to get home and spend some time alone in her room.
What do these three students have in common? They are all introverts. Introverts are the kinds of people you’ll find spending time alone in their rooms, library, or park. They’re the quiet ones that stand at the back of the party, the last ones to introduce themselves to strangers. They are energized by spending time alone. Extroverts are the opposite. They are energized by being around other people. They’re the life of the party, the first ones to volunteer for something, the ones who are comfortable starting and keeping a conversation with anyone.
The truth is, introverts get a bad rap in society. They are seen as too shy, quiet, and unconfident. It’s considered a bad thing to not speak up all the time, to not always be talking. Think about it. If you’re in a group, whether it’s for school, friends, or an event, and there’s one person who is quiet and kind of doing her own thing, what would you think of her? Chances are, you’ll think she’s weird, or maybe sad or lonely. You might think she’s anti-social.
I myself am an introvert, and I can say that these are all false assumptions. Most of the time, I just want to be able to quietly think and observe without talking to someone else. I want to have time to formulate my own opinions instead of blurting out an answer. I want to be able to recharge my batteries after a long day of social stimulation. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I just socialize differently. Molly doesn’t hate being around people. She’d just rather hang out with a few friends at a coffee shop or the mall instead of being around dozens of people in a loud party. Tim didn’t mean to hurt this friends’ feelings. He needs to recharge his batteries after an exhausting morning of socializing. Sarah isn’t weird or anti-social. She has a limit to how much social stimulation she can handle at once. Introverts are simply wired differently and like to socialize in different ways.
This is not bad, though! A lot of introverts, including myself a couple of years ago, think their introvert qualities are bad. But I’ve come to learn to love my “quiet powers.” I like that I can form tight, intimate friendships with a few people instead of having many friends that I don’t know well. I like that my friends think I’m a good listener because I tend to listen and emphasize more than talk. I like that my answers and responses in school are focused and detailed, because I tend to think a lot about my answers before responding.
Our society needs to recognize that we don’t live in an extrovert-inclusive world. We need extroverts and introverts. We need to realize that being quiet isn’t weird; in fact, it can be a good thing! All introverts should learn to love their strengths that their introvert self brings, and channel these talents into their passions. It’s okay to be quiet! It’s okay to be silent! There are dozens of introverts that have accomplished so much because of their natural qualities (search up Steve Wozniak). Introverts may be quiet, but they can use their quiet power to change the world.
Photo taken by Shayla Miller, BWA Senior