1. Always the listener, never the talker.
2. I’m that one person in a large group who you will notice after two hours and ask, “Why are you so quiet? Is something wrong?” And I’ll say something like, “No, I’m okay,” and the rest of the group will go on with their chit chat and small talk.
3. When it comes to serious meetings, I will say what I need to say, and contribute what I can, but when it comes to casual conversations — even with my own groups of friends — I am normally just the listener.
4. But when I do speak, it will come out in unsure, measured phrases — too careful not to say too much for fear of boring anyone; too scared and sensitive to see bored, uninterested eyes.
5. Before cracking a joke, I’ll often think to myself, “Oh, they don’t need to hear that. It really isn’t that funny.” But what I’m really thinking is: “If it came from someone else, it would be hilarious.”
6. I may not say much, but I pretty much laugh at everything, and people constantly ask me why I’m always smiling or why I basically laugh at almost anything. To certain people, I tell them the truth: that half of the time, my laughs are usually just polite giggles, and to this they reply, “So you’re just faking it?” And that hurts me.
7. I smile and laugh because I want you to feel like there is someone in the group who is actually listening and who is actually interested in what you have to say. You should know how hurtful and discouraging it is to continue speaking to a group of people who look like they’re just waiting for you to finish so they can get on with their lives.
8. On the one hand, along with not saying much, comes not prying at all. I won’t force the truth out of you, I won’t make you tell me your secrets, and I won’t ask you to tell me something I can so obviously see you’re uncomfortable talking about.
9. On the other hand, I rarely ever start conversations, be it via text messages, social media or in person. This is something I’m working on because as it only makes people feel like I don’t want to keep in touch, when the truth is usually quite the opposite.
10. Call me a basic 21st century girl, but I love talking to people via social media. If it isn’t already obvious, I am a very guarded person. So when it comes to chatting online, I’m in heaven: you can’t see me, you can’t see how your tiniest of jokes can make me laugh out loud alone in my room, and you can’t see how your slightly rude remark makes me recoil from my keyboard. I’m able to feel comfortable and even vulnerable for at least a few minutes.
11. And vice versa. I can’t see you, I can’t see how uninterested you are about how my day went, I can’t see you not laughing at my jokes which I think are hilarious, and I can’t see that you’re infinitely more interested in talking with someone else.
12. So I make jokes, I will tell you about my day, and I will be fine. I know how easy it is to fake interest without face-to-face interaction, but if you’re good at it, I will be fine.
I usually am.
Until I’m not.
But you won’t know, because I’m going to smile, laugh, and say, “No really — I’m okay”.