The Unbearable Lightness of Being Quiet

Posted on May 16, 2016



It’s tough being the quiet kid.

All my life, people have told me to speak up more. Parents, classmates, guidance counselors, coworkers, strangers – I can’t think of anyone who didn’t describe me as quiet and commented on it. “Why are you so quiet?”, they ask, unaware that I am just as befuddled as they are. Then again, it befuddles me more that people can have the energy to continuously talk about things they aren’t even interested in.

I guess it was always easy for me to embrace the silence.

That’s me, that weird quiet girl standing in the corner. Silently observing (and occasionally judging) people going about the business of being human. That’s me, the Silent Minority. The Socialization Sheriff.  The George Harrison. Although I’m not really sure “George Harrison” is a good way to describe my quiet nature; I just thought “wallflower” was so overused. But I digress.

What people don’t know is that my brain is brimming with too many thoughts. It’s good sometimes, because when I have nothing to entertain myself with I can always think about things. I guess I don’t really get bored easily.

But sometimes, it’s an absolute curse. When I get started on something that even remotely bothers me, I JUST CAN’T STOP THINKING. LITERALLY. It’s annoying. I start thinking about something and then I feel myself falling into the rabbit hole that is my mind. I hate how my brain has this way of constantly repeating things I just want to stop thinking about. I have asked others about this, and it seems easy for them to get distracted. I only get frustrated. Sometimes I just want to remove my brain for a while and be a useless slab of human flesh and bone. I hate having a brain that is a mishmash of high-energy, racing thoughts. It’s like having your own personal flock of paparazzi following you around, making you feel self-conscious and guilty about everything you’ve ever done.

People have no idea how chaotic it is inside my head. They don’t know the struggle. That’s the thing about being quiet – people have no idea about the mess inside you, and how much you know. Sometimes, I catch myself snickering over how people have no idea about the extent of my knowledge about their lives. Don’t you know that you should always be wary of the quiet ones?

But then again, this ability to think too much can backfire. It can get really difficult to keep everything inside. I don’t really have a lot of friends, and sometimes it feels like the things I know are too uninteresting or strange for anyone to care about. But I know I have to at least get them out, so I do – one way or another. But once I do, I often feel guilty about it.

I either talk and say too much, or stay silent and regret saying nothing at all. I can’t help it – I HAVE to let these thoughts out. They can be too much to handle sometimes. However, I don’t bother talking to anyone about these thoughts – I lack the energy and nobody really cares, I guess. I’m too quiet to be loquacious, too opinionated to stay quiet. It’s a misfit’s endless battle. It’s a struggle to constantly keep Mr. Hyde at bay so Dr. Jekyll can enjoy a quiet existence.

I guess it’s better to live a silent life. Nobody notices you when you’re quiet. No one would look twice, and people always forget you.

You rarely get attention.

You get to do your own thing, without having to think about pleasing anyone. You get to watch people busy with each other, immersed in your own world as they mess up theirs.

You keep quiet about the things you know, avoiding outbursts, satisfied with the fact that nobody will ever know how you feel about something. You won’t get into conflicts with anyone. People won’t have anything to say about you. When you don’t talk much, people won’t hold anything against you. They won’t get sick of you and think you’re a weirdo. You won’t get embarrassed about anything. You’ll be just a face in a crowd, whose only specialty is existing.

But it’s hard to stay silent when your world is falling apart.

It’s hard not to shake things up when everybody’s content on being misinformed. It’s hard to let your feelings go unnoticed by the people you care about. It’s difficult to stay silent when people are being silenced. It’s heartbreaking to not speak up when you know you have to justify yourself. It’s hard to remain still when it’s tearing you apart.

All my life, I’ve been told to speak up. Now that I’m older, I want to go back to how I used to be – extremely quiet. My world was quieter, and my brain didn’t have to collapse upon itself.

It’s still difficult for me to know when I should speak up or stay silent. The only hope I can hold on to, I suppose, is in knowing that every outburst was worth it. If my words caused people to think and feel, then maybe having an outspoken side is not such a bad thing.

I may look calm, but they don’t know that I long for peace. I wish my brain could be as still as how people perceive me to be. For now, the world isn’t quiet here.