I May Be Quiet But I Have Plenty To Say

You probably knew a girl like me in grade school: a girl that mostly kept to herself, didn’t talk much and hardly ever raised her hand in class. You probably knew her as “shy” and “quiet” and “introverted,” adjectives that pair well with “bookish” and “nerdy” in an attempt to make it seem like you knew more about her personality than you actually did. If you were friends with her, you knew she just took awhile to “warm up” to people. If you weren’t, you had no idea how much she had to say. I was — and still am — that girl.

I am the girl who can’t stand in line for coffee without repeating my order to myself in my head, over and over, until I’m finally at the cash register. I am the girl who sometimes takes too long to respond to texts, DMs and emails because I am drafting out a decent reply. I am the girl who teachers consistently push to “participate more” because I don’t raise my hand enough in class. I am the girl who struggles in conversations with people I haven’t met before — and even those I have.

I’m used to being told that I’m quiet, as if I don’t know. I’ve heard it all: “You’re quiet,” “You don’t talk much,” “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard your voice!” At the end of eighth grade, my teachers made a slideshow of pictures of my whole class, with funny captions and quotes to accompany each picture. On a photo of me during a field trip, they put a speech bubble that said, ironically, “I talk too much.” It’s safe to say my identity throughout middle school and most of high school was solidly tied to my lack of speech. But here’s the thing: it’s not that I’m afraid to speak up, it’s just that I’m picky about what leaves my mouth.

One of the things that surprises me the most, to this day, is that there are people on this Earth who can speak without thinking about it first. What’s it like to not obsess over every sentence, the order of the words, the correct inflection in your voice needed to get your point across? What’s it like not to filter yourself so heavily, you often don’t speak at all?

I’ve always had a hard time articulating my thoughts out loud, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to say. I took to writing at an early age to express myself in a way that I struggled to do in daily conversation and it quickly became an outlet for me to say the things I wanted to say. I’m always more comfortable communicating online than in person, I have no problem with public speaking as long as I’ve written out what I want to say first, and I even find it helpful to write down talking points before important phone calls. From AIM away statuses, to diary entries, to articles — writing has let me use the mental filter that has always held me back to produce sentences and ideas that I am proud of and happy to share with the world.

I may be the quiet girl, but I have plenty to say. Just let me gather my thoughts first.

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