THE BLOG
09/05/2016 10:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An Open Letter To The Loudest Person In The Room

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Yes. Thank you, I'm fine.

No really, nothing's wrong.

I'm not unhappy. Not upset. Not in a mood.

I'm just quiet.

I know you don't understand because we're different, you and I.

Very different.

So it's easy for both of us to misunderstand each other.

Let's try not to though, because we can get on great if we only understood each other better.

You see, some people might call me 'introverted', like they might say you're 'extroverted' but I don't like labels. Labels put you in a box and people don't fit well in boxes, labeled or not. Everyone sees the label and interprets it differently. But they never see the person inside the box.

Perhaps if I explain it'll help...

You see, well, maybe I should start with words. Because as a 'quiet' person, most days there are far too many of them.

Words tire me out.

I need a lot of quiet, otherwise I get frazzled.

And I think that probably makes me frown, or at least not smile so much. So it looks like I'm in a grump, or a mood, or not happy about something.

But I'm not. Not at all.

I'm just trying to block out the whirlwind of words so my head shuts up and the world stops spinning.

Because that's another thing that gives the wrong impression about us 'quiet' people.

I know it already. Not saying much makes it awkward for everyone else. For you. You don't even know why I'm not joining in, why I bothered to show up in the first place.

That's fair. I can see that.

Because to a chatty person, someone who's the heart of the party, quiet can be a drag. A dull, slightly irritating drag.

It makes you feel uncomfortable. It seems weird someone sitting and watching, more than joining in.

In truth it seems a little rude that someone can come along and not make as much of a contribution.

And then leave early.

Oh yes, I haven't mentioned that...

You know it catches me by surprise sometimes too. When I get excited about going out and genuinely look forward to it. And it's all going well and it's interesting and fun.

And then suddenly, I want to be at home. In pajamas.

And yes, I feel awkward saying I need to go. And feeling that I need to have a more plausible explanation than 'I just want to leave'.

It sounds a strange thing to say. In fact, it can sound downright rude.

So why do I suddenly have to leave? I'm not sure myself, but I have a theory about quiet people. It could be absolute nonsense for others, but I think it's absolutely true for me.

You see, I have a tolerance level, an inner switch that kicks in after a certain amount of external things... maybe forces, no, I think stimuli is correct but that sound like a psychology textbook.

Anyway, after a certain amount of external stimuli - chatter, faces, noise - I kind of shut down.

At least that's probably how it seems, if you're the loudest person in the room.

It looks like I've suddenly gone weird. A sudden shift of mood. ' What's her problem? She just sort of clammed up and then left. Did I upset her?'

Maybe 'loud' people need to shout and wave their arms about and get everyone's attention to let off steam.

Me, I need quiet to charge my batteries.

It's not at all like shutting down. There's no retreating into some dark, silent space.

Quiet is bright, it's happy. In fact...

Quiet is my happy place.

And sometimes that means being alone.

Not like some lonely loner hero that Hollywood action flicks try to make out as cool or sexy. Uhuh.

Seriously, that's not the self-image I have at all.

And it's not personal.

We're significantly different yes - your qualities that make others swoon don't always shine so brightly to me. Don't get me wrong, I think you're great. I do genuinely like you.

I don't however want to be like you.

It looks so tiring. Being you.

Exhausting. Stressful. Full-time.

Which is another thing...

There's another misconception about quiet people that, well, I can see where it's come from, it's an easy mistake to make.

It's the idea that conquering anything takes bravado, bluff, charisma.

And that takes 'loud' people.

Because as the loudest person in the room, quiet charisma might seem a total contradiction.

After all, where am I hiding that charisma? And why the hell would I hide it anyway?

Fair questions.

First up, hey I'm allowed to be a little self-deluded. But only a little deluded, because everyone has charisma, loud or quiet. It's just that mine might not resonate with you, that's all.

Because quiet doesn't mean not having dreams - or charisma - as big, or bigger, than any 'loud' person.

Take the Dalai Lama, a quiet guy, big on dreams and charisma.

Quiet doesn't mean I want to do nothing. To be nothing.

Not at all.

It means I'm happy to quietly conquer. To achieve whatever adventures my heart desires without talking about it much.

I'm happy just to get on with it. Quietly.

But it's hard to see that the quietest person in the room has got the balls or courage to go and do ballsy or courageous things, I understand that.

'She's as quiet as a church mouse'- maybe, but that doesn't mean she's as nervous as one.

In fact, the quieter she is, often the more confident she is.

Because confidence can manifest in different ways.

But we've mostly been told that confidence is about hustling, 'faking it till you make it', shouting till you're heard above the crowd. Being a human bull horn.

Which can be one way to be confident. But there are others...

  • Feeling self-assured enough to let others take the limelight.
  • Feeling secure enough about who you are to follow your own path.
  • Not being upset that your contribution might not be heard at first.
  • Using fewer words. So when you do speak, others listen.
  • And
using them quietly. So those people 'lean in' to hear what you're saying.

Because someone who speaks quietly and only when they have something to say, can command greater attention than the loudest, most vocal person in the room.

Now I confess these signs of confidence aren't always so evident because they're, well... quieter.
They're not better or worse than your ways of being confident. They're just what they are.

Try them sometimes. If you're confident enough.

We could get on great, you and I. Both being confident. Both going after our goals. Both happy to be at this party.

I would love to wave a magic wand and spend a year not being quiet, you know.

Just to see if I'm wrong about how much easier you find it all. Life I mean.

Because quiet isn't perfect.

It isn't better than being the loudest person in the room.

And it isn't always easy for others to understand.

It is however, who I am.

And loud and quiet can do great together.

It just needs a little understanding, a little give and take.

Fancy a quiet night in sometime?

Post first published on Positively Positive

Image courtesy of Pixabay.