For as long as I remember I was always a quiet kid. I preferred a small group of friends rather than a massive group. I would rather hear what everyone else had to say rather than share my opinions.
Somewhere between middle school and high school though I got this message that being quiet was a bad thing. If you’re reading this and can relate, you too may have gotten that message. It seems that we have equated being quiet as something we don’t want but try to make the best of; like how most people view singleness. We see a quiet personality as something to be ashamed of and something that we need to change. Today I want to tell you that’s false and quietness is something that is valued and precious.
Now you may be rolling your eyes by now and saying, “Please don’t give me that. Do you even know how frustrating it can be for me sometimes? How I wish I could just be naturally bubbly and outgoing?” Oh, believe me, I know. I know what it’s like to be deemed the quiet kid after just 3 days at a new school. I know that awkward comment from new co-workers: “Wow, you’re pretty quiet aren’t you?” Why, uh yeah… thank you? And let’s be honest, sometimes when we try too hard to break out of our quietness, it just comes out… well… awkward.
So let’s hit the biggest 3 lies we tell ourselves as quiet people and kick ’em to the curb.
Lie #1: I’m quiet, therefore I cannot be a leader.
I cannot emphasize enough how false this is. When we think of leaders we may commonly think of people that are up front, giving instructions to everybody. But they aren’t the only leaders. Some people lead with their voices but others lead by their example.
When I was in college (not sure I’ve been out long enough to have the right to say that but ah.. it flows so let’s just go with it) I had the opportunity to be part of a leadership team on campus for 3 years. While I was on this leadership team I struggled a lot with comparing myself to the more outgoing leaders who took charge. It took me awhile to realize that I can impact people by my example through serving those around me and trying to live out the things I was learning. It was not until half way through college, that I was able to see that leading by example is equally valuable to leading with your voice.
Lie #2: I’m quiet, therefore I am awkward.
I guess we got this one from the phrase, “awkward silence”. If you’re on a first date and there’s huge gaps of silence or someone tells a joke that doesn’t seem to fly well with everyone else in the room, it’s appropriate to say the silence is awkward. If someone is talking to you and asking you questions, and you just stare at them-you will probably be perceived as awkward. Quietness in itself however, does not have to be awkward.
Someone told me once that when you are overthinking that your quietness is awkward, you become awkward. However, if you don’t perceive it as awkward and find confidence in who you are and accept that you’re more on the quiet side, it won’t be so awkward. Silence is refreshing if anything. In a world of constant noise, you are probably a pretty refreshing person to be around for some people. I guarantee you that if you’re quieter, people have also told you you’re a great listener. Which is something to appreciate about yourself.
Lie #3: I’m quiet, therefore I’m not enough.
While more outgoing people may worry they are too much at times, quieter people worry that they aren’t enough. They worry that because they are quieter, there must be something wrong with them. I speak to both parties when I say, you are fine as you are.
Yes, there are moments some outgoing people need to tone it down as much as there are moments some quieter people need to speak up. It’s okay though that you don’t constantly speak up or aren’t always the chatterbox in the group. I’m not saying that louder people aren’t insightful or don’t choose their words carefully but I’ve heard quieter people are typically more careful with their words. They think carefully about what they want to say and when they do speak, it’s something worth hearing. Please, don’t think you’re not enough, just because you don’t always speak up. I guarantee you that there’s a lot of people in your life that appreciate your quietness even though you may find that hard to believe. Trust me.
Truth be told, both types of personalities have their perks and down-sides. Regardless I think that whether we are leaders who speak up, leaders who lead by example, people who are more outgoing or less outgoing, that we should keep things in the perspective that we are all valuable and all have something to offer.