I’ve grown up constantly being told I’m too quiet, I’m shy, I’m innocent. And it’s done nothing but bring me down. When you constantly talk for other people without ever getting to know them, of course they aren’t going to want to be themselves in front of you because you’ve already made them feel insecure for who they are. People who talk a lot aren’t told to be quiet or talk less, but those of us who observe more in social situations are told to speak up, talk more.
In school I’ve even had teachers look down on me for being quiet. And looking back now, it’s sad to think of a teacher bullying a 12 year old kid. We all are different so when is it going to be okay to be more quiet. But quiet doesn’t mean you are shy. And it doesn’t mean you are innocent. They are all their own unique things. I may be the quietest out of my friends, but I still speak up.
And if you ask my family, I am not quiet or shy one bit. And isn’t the definition of innocence a pure, naive person without experience or knowledge. We are all innocent in some way, but I am not just an innocent person to life.
I can look back to a time in my life when I started being called these names and before the bullying began. It was when I changed schools for the first time. Now I know it was normal for a lot of kids to switch schools and make new friends and be fine with that experience. But looking back I realize that is probably where my anxiety began.
I was leaving a place I had known because my siblings went there, my mom worked there, I grew up with my friends there, teachers knew me, to a place where I had to start over. So as years past, I just accepted that I was this person. It was hard for me to speak up for myself. But when I found theatre in high school and a group of friends that made me feel like I belonged, I thought my life was changed. I had friends who let me speak and didn’t speak for me. People who just loved me for me and let me be my crazy or calm self. But when we grew apart I fell back again.
When I thought I had made friends in college, they lost my trust by calling me these names again without letting me explain who I was and why I’m the way I am. I thought college was a time to stat fresh and try new things. But my anxiety got the best of me again.
I didn’t want to party or drink, so I was left out a lot. And now being out of college, I still don’t want to do those things. And people constantly ask, “Since you don’t like to party what do you do for fun?” As if partying is the only thing that can define a person. Trust me, if I could I would have a glass of wine on weeknights and party at the club with my friends over the weekend. But I just don’t like it. My anxieties bubble up and I can’t relax or have a good time.
Being an introvert with anxiety has made me loose out on experiences, but it has not made me ashamed of who I am. I want to let everyone know who is in similar shoes as me, that it’s okay to be the “quiet” one. It’s okay to be in your 20’s and not want to go out. People will constantly put us down until everyone learns that it is also normal to be an introvert. And while it isn’t a big deal, to be using this language towards people with anxiety is. And I will not stop using my voice to speak up about it.