It is becoming increasingly difficult to feel quiet. To cherish and celebrate quiet. Everywhere I look, the world is getting noisier, and an acceptance of the fact that some people might like to keep to themselves is thinning every second.
Away in Vienna, I thought it was beautiful how people knew how to respect someone’s privacy and not breathe down their necks just because they were together in a supermarket queue or lining up outside a tourist attraction. In R’s workplace, he came across people who were vivacious and gregarious and people who were reserved and silent. As long as both kinds of people were good at their job, the workplace did not make anyone uncomfortable. There was no “you should tone yourself down” or “you should come out of your shell”.
It’s not that I never enjoy conversation or lack any conversational skills whatsoever. Introversion, social awkwardness and a fear of speaking are NOT the same thing (surprise!). But whenever someone, looking super-pleased with themselves, tells me I should “try to talk more”, a nerve in my forehead seems to snap. I feel infuriated, and make the mental resolve to stay away from this person till all the rivers run dry.
But you see, I am a genial person. So, all you guys who have been guilty of doing this to me, here is a ready reckoner. It has the answers to some of your most vexing questions. The next time you want to plague me – or a fellow introvert – with your ill-considered interrogation, check the answers here.
Why don’t you talk more?
I talk when I feel I have something valuable to say. I talk when I have professional commitments. I talk when I am with people I love, or those with whom I want to make a connection. You haven’t heard me talk? Perhaps you didn’t make the cut. (By the way, if you need tuition on how to get into my list of favourite living beings, consult my cat.)
Also, I don’t think every silence needs to be filled. Silence is rare. It is okay to be quiet in the elevator or when I am with you in the pantry only because I need to use the microwave. Why are you so scared of silences, anyway? Not enough thoughts in your head to fill the quiet with?
But you come across as anti-social.
First – please check the dictionary entry carefully. An anti-social person is someone with a criminal streak or someone in violation of societal laws. I am not a criminal even though I do sometimes feel like thrashing you. The word you are looking for is unsocial.
So, I am unsocial because I don’t like to fill every day with random conversations, trying to make new “friends”, and pretending I am excited about going out for drinks with a bunch of strange people I have zilch in common with? So be it. Every person in this world doesn’t necessarily need to connect with 5 million people like you do and then not be there for a single one of them in times of need.
Are you trying to say I am a bad person because I talk more and have friends?
No, you are perhaps a bad person for trying to project your personality onto mine and insinuating that introversion is a personality flaw that needs to be cured. Or wait, maybe you are just shallow and incapable of understanding how people can be different in a multitude of ways.
If you like talking to people and making friends, that’s great! But if I like sticking to the few friends I have and not talking throughout the day, that’s fine too. I am not bugging you; why are you bugging me?
You will only end up feeling left-out and sad.
How well you do know me.
*shakes handbag subtly to see if the paperback and the bag of chips are both in there, my light of the evening, my quiet friends who demand – and deserve – my attention*