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I am not a loud person. In fact, there are those who believe that I am not capable of making any noise at all. I certainly haven't demonstrated any gaudy displays of shouting around them, although some yelling may have been called for a few times. Like when my shoes got folded in a giant mat. Twice. Some yelling might have been helpful there.
So why don't I yell? On second thought, why don't I raise my voice at all, even just to talk loudly? Or go out of my way to talk to people? Why don't I talk?
Oh, there's plenty of reasons, some of which are pretty deep, but for the most part it's as simple as this.
I. Am. Quiet.
Is that such a bad thing?
Some people sure think so. I've been told that it's unnatural to stand next to a stranger and feel no desire to talk to them. That human beings are social by nature, and therefor the urge to make sound should be embedded like a tumor in my nature to. Well, the last time I checked I'm perfectly natural. And trust me when I say that I have no desire to talk to the random stranger standing next to me in line at the grocery store, or anywhere else for that matter. If I talked to every person I came across I'd never get anything done. I'd be too busy socializing to study. My life would revolve around my cell phone, my facebook, my twitter account. And that's where it would stay, imbedded in technology, blind to the perfectly natural world around it. How is that a good thing?
I have nothing against technology, sometimes even I feel the lure of communicating with a friend. My point is that life is meant neither to revolve completely around oneself or others. There must be a balance, and each individual person's balance is sure to be different. I, for one, don't have a facebook, and I am perfectly happy that way. I don't need to be able to contact everyone I know at a couple clicks of the mouse. Some people, on the other hand, live on social networking. There is nothing wrong with that. It is simply the way that they are, engraved in their genes and as perfectly natural as the sky above us.
Another thing that bothers me is the assumption that all introverts are pacifists too. It's true that I can be obnoxiously polite for someone my age (the way my parents raised me) and I can take a lot of crap (I'm a patient person by nature), but I am not passive. This is the girl who got into a screaming match in middle school when a bully picked on her friend. This is the girl who lectured a jerk for ten minutes on heart defects for dissing her brother behind his back. This is the girl who survived three years in a brutal private school. This girl will stare a person in the eye and challenge the way they think about the world without uttering more than a single sentence. This girl is not a pacifist, and I find the label offensive when it's slapped on me without so much as a second glance. The word pacifist has many negative connotations. To many of my peers it means coward, weak, antisocial. Worst of all, it means submissive. In today's society, pacifists are not supposed to stand up for themselves. Instead they should be gentle, calm, and opposed to violence, but you can be all those things and not be a pacifist. I am gentle. I am calm. I do not get into fights easily. But you know what? I can still be brave, and strong, and friendly. I can still deal with people, even people who think they're better than me. And I can definitely stand up for myself and those around me when needed.
I've actually heard people calling me passive before. Starting way back in fifth grade kids would tell me I was passive, gullible, grumpy, and all other kinds of labels with varying degrees of negativity trailing along. They called me things in front of me, in front of my siblings, behind my back, and everywhere else. Rude names and cruel comments were thrown like dirt in my face and I won't deny that it hurt. For a while I thought it might be over, but the most recent time was only a few short months ago, in the beginning of my freshman year of high school. To be fair, I don't know my classmates were talking about me (they never used any names) but I don't know who else they could have been talking about either.
It was physics. We were doing a computer lab, and the class had segregated itself into lab groups. It wasn't hard to see the lines thickly drawn by cliques woven in and out between the computers. My friends and I were tapping our fingers in boredom, waiting for a laptop to load. At the other end of the table, another group's project was already going. They had been lucky enough to snag one of the faster computers, and as they worked I could hear them talking amongst themselves all to easily.
I really wasn't trying to listen, but you know how it is when the only people talking in a quiet room are just a few feet away. It's loud.
Their words were innocent enough, something along the lines of “I guess she's okay, but she's so passive.” Innocence has a certain sting to it, though.
A word to the wise, as much as I appreciate people who have the decency not to talk about me where I can hear them, scream shushing doesn't work. And that's what sealed in the idea that they were talking about someone nearby. I was one of only two girls at that table who was new to them. The other girl is great and a good friend of mine, but she's a perfect extrovert. Anything but passive.
“She's okay, but...” I hate that overused statement. Like I've never heard it before. Like it doesn't hurt worse every time. Roughly translated, it means I'm almost good enough for you. I've almost made it passed your judgment. I'm almost cool enough to be your friend.
I'm not mad at my classmates. I don't hate them and all the other people who have judged me and thrown me into my quiet box. I'd much rather “hate the sin, not the sinner.” And I certainly hate the sin. I hate the judgment. Hate my quiet box. But the thing is, I'm really not as silent as those around me think. Oh, it's true that I don't talk that much, but my words are more subtle that those spoken out loud. To be honest, I think they say more.
My words are offerings of tissues to someone in tears. My words are friendly flashes of smiles aimed at classmates in the hallways. My words are diligent help from a girl who never whines or asks for recognition. I speak through the books I pick out for my sister when she can't find anything she likes at the library, and the songs I sing from the back of the choir, because our soloists deserve the best accompaniment I can give them. The sound of pencils scraping out line after line of poetry, the swish of the feather I pinned in my hair, these are the things that define me. These things have much more meaning than empty scraps of dialogue echoing in distracted ears. If that makes me a pacifist, I'll simply have to live with it, because this is one thing I won't back down on.
I may be quiet, but I have everything to say.