Would you describe yourself as outgoing or more on the quiet side? Sometimes we can be both at different times depending on the situation. And when you think of being quiet, do you think this is a positive or negative thing? Again, this can depend on the situation. In this blog, I want to focus on how we see being quiet and how our view of ourselves often differs a lot from how others see us.
Up until my early 30’s I saw myself as someone who was professionally quiet but personally not. At work I wasn’t the outgoing type, I wanted to keep my work and personal life totally separate so I rarely went on the work nights out where people had wild times and were seen as being really cool. I was the quiet one who left work on time and was seen as ‘boring’ – people never saw how I was out of work so they made assumptions.
Things changed a bit when I realised I had to fight a bit harder to get up the ladder in my corporate job so I became more assertive and even though I still kept my work and personal life very separate, I let people know more about myself. In hindsight, I realised that I was having a bit of a conflict – I wanted to be ‘one of the cool gang’ at work but not in the way they did it. It struck me recently that I’ve always striven to be my authentic and genuine self – I don’t want to be any other way, so that’s probably why I shut myself away a bit in my work life at first. Now the people at work know me a lot more, who I am and how I am and that’s fine with me – I have a professional face but otherwise I’m me.
Those who know me personally though would probably not call me quiet. I have an adventurous streak and a silly/fun one too. However, I didn’t used to be that way – I was very quiet indeed and feel that this held me back in my younger years. I didn’t feel I could be me when I was younger, it felt best to be quiet and almost ‘boring’. It was only when I had more freedom at university that I found I could be who I wanted to be, the only thing was that back then, I didn’t know who I wanted to be. I was too young and immature at that point so I went from being extremely quiet and docile to being the life and soul of the party. Even back then it didn’t feel right and I know now that if I had gone with the flow a bit more, I would have discovered who I was much quicker.
Do you ever have a day when you really don’t want to talk to anyone or interact in any way? People won’t leave you alone and all you want to do is be with your own thoughts – you just want to be quiet in your own way and not to be judged for it. If this is sometimes you, then give yourself the space and time you need to be quiet, it’s really OK to do this. Being quiet can recharge your batteries and make you feel more relaxed and calm. Even if you’re usually more outgoing and people expect that of you – take time to be quiet sometimes and see how you feel.
Sometimes being quiet can be confused with being shy and that’s sometimes how people confuse how I am. A few years ago, I was going to night school to do an experiential counselling skills course – there were about 20 of us and we had to share our experiences of various situations, discussing them with our knowledge of counselling. I occasionally shared, but liked to listen, take everything in and process it all in my head. At the end of the course, we were asked to say something about each other and over half of the comments given to me were that I was quiet and shy and they would have liked to have seen more from me. This took me aback, I never thought I was remotely quiet, but then I realised that I’m not quiet in my head, but I am to others when all they see is me listening and not talking. I’m actually glad that I was made aware of this because it made me see the bigger picture with others too and I stopped assuming people were quiet and may be shy. So next time you make an assumption about someone who may be more quiet than yourself, don’t assume they are shy or more quiet than you – it may just be the way they are and their internal dialogue may be full of ideas and fun.
Next month – R is for rejuvenated. We all need a bit of rejuvenation at times, but may find it hard to know what to do to feel this. I’ll be discussing how we can help ourselves to get more rejuvenated more frequently – out on 1st January 2021!