My silence doesn’t mean I think I’m better than you. I just feel really uncomfortable because I don’t know anyone here, and it’s nerve-wracking to be thrown into this situation without anyone to lean on. Please don’t think I’m being rude. I’m not snubbing you or ignoring you; I just don’t know what to say right now.
Asking me, “Why are you so quiet?” is the single best way to kill my confidence. Really, what answer do you expect? Do you want a genuine response, or are you just asking to ask? More often than not, this question is asked with some snotty inflection, which just adds to my embarrassment. It’s implied that being reserved is a bad thing, which is commonly believed in modern society. Please don’t reaffirm that with your insensitive inquiry. And honestly, even if I do know why I’m quiet, it’s probably not the kind of thing I’m just going to share.
I swear I’m not going to bomb the school. Just because I keep to myself doesn’t mean I’m planning to bring a gun tomorrow. This stereotype is so hurtful to introverted and/or shy people because it further establishes the trope that we are unstable psychopaths. Even without considering the social-justice argument, this joke is just never funny. Especially with all the recent instances of gun violence in public areas, do you have to play around with such a serious topic?
This might be a shock, but just because I’m very quiet in one environment doesn’t mean I can’t be gregarious or even loud in another. I’m a lot more outgoing with people I know and am comfortable with, and I’m sure you are, too. It might be strange to see me laughing or yelling or acting, I don’t know, “normal,” but the novelty wears off. Accept that people act differently in various situations; even that mute person from your economics class can let loose outside of school.
My voice can be raspy and demonic when I first speak after being silent for a few hours. It’s always unsettling to hear someone croaking in the middle of lecture hall, so I’m not going to expect you to be totally stoic when you hear me. However, acting like my voice is perfectly normal and that I don’t sound like Gollum is highly appreciated.
Shyness is not an illness. While it might suck to not be able to say what I want to say, shyness does not automatically make me a Worthy Cause for you to work on and feel good about. Drop the condescendingly warm voice and wipe the pity out of your eyes; I don’t need it. Even worse—don’t talk to me just so you can feel good about yourself for talking to the “quiet kid.” Everyone can see right through your fake Good Samaritan act.
To my friends—I know I can’t always go out with you all, but I still appreciate you inviting me. I hate having to say no all the time, and I can tell you’re starting to hate it, too. This might be too much to ask, but please keep asking me to hang out. Don’t forget about me, even when I’m absent too often.
The media likes to depict us as awkward geniuses, quirky outcasts, serial killers, or mentally unhinged. Unfortunately, quiet people do not all fall neatly into each of these classifications. Movies accurately depicting shy people are scant. Let’s add films with non-spunky, reticent heroes to the list of things Hollywood needs to start representing.
Not all shy people are friends with each other. We each have distinct personalities that may or may not mesh with others regardless of our introversion levels. Don’t lump us all together as an anonymous mass of mute faces, and don’t assume I magically know that quiet boy in your dorm if the only basis for your speculation is that both of us don’t talk much.