Thursday, December 13, 2012
It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for
In terms of the work I do, I have nothing to do with the other people in my office - I work here because it's convenient and my job is portable.
One of those other people in my office, as I was sitting in the staffroom at lunchtime reading the other day, came past and said to me, "You're very quiet, aren't you?" And she stood there, actually waiting for an answer. No, "Hello, how are you?" or anything like that. Just "You're very quiet, aren't you?" I haven't had anyone say that sort of thing to me for a couple of years now - I thought people stopped caring about that kind of thing when you become an adult - so I was caught off guard a little bit, and just said, "Yep, guess I am..." But that wasn't enough for her. She went on to analyse the situation, saying things like, "I suppose we're a bit of a chatty bunch, aren't we?" "I suppose with the work you do you don't need to talk to anyone, you just stare at your screen all day, while we interact with people."
Um... yep, that's me, just staring at my screen all day, not doing awesome work like you, not putting on a fake smile and laughing at things you don't even think are funny just to get a sale.
If I was a loud, obnoxious person who says everything they think, I would have replied to, "You're very quiet, aren't you?" with something like, "You're very loud, aren't you?" Or how about, "You talk about dogs a lot, don't you?" or, even better, "You love receiving pity from your workmates about your marriage breakup and your useless ex husband by talking about it all the time, showing people the text messages, and talking to friends on the phone about it during work time, don't you?" How does it feel, being judged for being the person you are? Huh?
But I'm not that person. I wouldn't say those things. But I was certainly thinking them.
I've always been a quiet person, but I most definitely am not shy, and I don't lack confidence at all. I used to be shy as a kid and lack a huge amount of confidence as a teenager, but I'm over all of that now, and I'm just a quiet grownup. Yes, I'm a bit of a hermit, I don't like crowds too much, one of my favourite pastimes is curling up with a book, I don't do small talk, and I don't mind travelling alone. I don't say everything I think, only the things I think are worth saying.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but for some reason, even in adulthood, people still judge the quiet ones. They think we're shy, they think we lack confidence, they think we're bored.
No, no, no. We just want the words that come out of our mouths to mean something, we're confident when we need to be, and we're not bored, we're people watching. And during all of that, we're thinking.