For as long as I can remember, I can recall others declaring that I was the girl who never had much to say. As a child, I drove my parents crazy, constantly asking questions like, "How does the bus driver close the doors on the bus when he gets out at the end of the day if he opens and closes them from the inside?" "Why is the sky blue?" "What do worms eat?" I was regularly demanding their attention when I made ground breaking discoveries like the day I learned that if I throw an ant into the spider web carefully crafted on my grandparent's porch, the web's creator will mummify and eat it. "Look at this!" Watch this!" I was a curious and creative child who wanted and demanded to know all the answers to every question about life and the world her youthful brain could come up with.
My parents were dumb founded to find out at their first parent-teacher night that their wanderlust daughter could ever have been referred to as "shy" or "quiet." As the years progressed and my parents attended the yearly parent-teacher night at my school, the responses never changed. Every year they met a new teacher and every year they would say the same thing: "She's so quiet." "She doesn't talk much, but she is very well behaved." And every year my parents left wondering if they were referencing the right child. The same child who ran wild in department stores and was forever asking them "why?"
As I advanced through grade school, junior high school, high school, and even college, not much had changed. I spent my entire life being the girl everyone assumed never had much to say. They were all wrong.
The issue with our society is that if you are not bold and loud you fade into the background like a screen in a window. People are looking directly at you, but instead of seeing you, they see past you. You become transparent when you're competing with a bold world constantly asking for attention.
I was raised to be a polite child. I was taught to never speak out of turn, always say please and thank you, and to use my inside voice. It seemed as though I was one of the only children whose parents taught them that I didn't have to shout my way through life. Even though I may have been a handful at home, I spent my life raising my hand in class only to be overlooked due to the person who spoke out of turn. I had plenty to say, it just always seemed like no one, other than my parents, took the time to ask what I thought simply because I wasn't shouting it.
As I grew older, I got used to not being heard. I grew accustomed to fading into the background. I allowed myself to become invisible and I grew comfortable with it. I was always excited for the day to end so I could go home and unleash all of my knew found knowledge and ideas onto my parents. Home was where I didn't have to wait to be called upon or asked to speak. My parents always gave me freedom to express myself.
Eventually, I sort of allowed myself to fade into the background because I've always felt like I had a very different thought process and view of things than others. Have you ever raised your hand in class, but someone shouts a response before you could answer? Have you every completely disagreed with their response but it seemed like the rest of the room agreed with them? This was a regular occurrence for me. Their responses we're always so different than mine and when the rest of the class seemed to be in agreement with them, I started to doubt my own thoughts and ideas. Because I thought differently and because I had different opinions, I assumed I was wrong and as a result, I stopped making an attempt to contribute to the conversation.
I don't know what it is about me, but I always seem to attract the type of people who are incredibly outspoken and are ready to force feed you their opinions with a simple "hello." I have always politely listened and accepted their ideas, because we are all entitled to them, even if we disagree. After many years, I found that I was always listening and nodding my head. I was never being asked how I felt or what I thought. People were speaking at me, not to me and I grew tired of never being a part of never being asked to contribute.
I waited and waited for someone to ask me what I thought or how I felt, but no one ever did. The thing with humans is that we love to hear ourselves talk and we will do it all day if we find someone who will listen. I listened and never rebutted and people took advantage of that, even people who I called friends.
One day, I had enough. I was tired of listening and never being heard. As a result, I started to speak up and talk back. I started to express my thoughts, opinions, and feelings and I found that those who had become obsessed with the sound of their own voice during the time I never used mine, couldn't handle it when I stopped being the person they spoke to instead of with.
More than 20 years later, I can officially say that I am done allowing others to speak over me. I refuse to believe that my thoughts are invalid because they are different.
No. I am not the "quiet" girl with nothing to say. I have plenty to say, I've just never been asked what my thoughts and opinions were. Other people's ideas have been force on me for too long and I am tired of being polite and "listening." Just because a person chooses not to speak out of turn, or abruptly blurt out, what are often irrelevant, thoughts, does not mean that they do not have opinions of their own.
Often, these people have the greatest ideas and a fresh take on things because they've spent their lives observing, gathering, and listening while they were being overlooked.
I for one refuse to stop allowing others to mistake my politeness for not having anything to say. I am an intelligent and thoughtful woman who wants to share the view of the word from where she is. Life is all about perspective and the view from where I'm standing is different from where you are. It is so important that we all share our perspectives so that we can experience the various angles of the world so that we might open our eyes to a new realm of possibilities, acceptance, and beauty.
From where I'm standing, the view is pretty fantastic and I'm ready to be heard. I no longer think that what I have to say is unimportant and I no longer care if I think no one wants to hear it because frankly, I'm tired of being polite. So yes, I do have something to say so sit down and I refuse to wait any longer for someone to ask what I think.
This post originally appeared on the blog Leave the Bananas -- Take the Beer.