The Quiet Ones

I spent the first portion of my life avoiding talking to almost everyone.

Painfully shy, I avoided talking to almost everyone. Answering a question in class would bring on tears and mute panic. I tried to get away with saying as little as possible, which would end up coming out as quietly as possible to anyone outside my small circle of family and friends.

Now many years, kids and one husband later I have gotten over it.

I can make small talk with the checkout lady at the grocery store, call up stores to ask dumb questions, and talk to other mothers at the park. These may not be things I love doing, and I doubt I will ever be able to talk to a group without my face doing it’s best tomato impression, but for the most part things are fine.

Until I run into one of those people.

Those quiet, sneaky, sometimes shy people.

The ones who watch and listen attentively but say almost nothing.

Suddenly my confident, chatty, grown up persona disintegrates into remnants of my shy childhood. Yet, unlike my reaction as a kid, I instead start to babble. I talk, and then I talk more, and then I realize what I am doing and I try to stop but it just.. keeps… going… Meanwhile the poor soul I’m talking to starts to get a deer in the headlights look, which only makes my reaction worse. I try to stop and let them say something and when they don’t my hands get involved and I start gesticulating.  The babbling starts veering off topic, my face turns red and it all ends in an embarrassed flurry as I try to literally remove myself from the situation.

There are a handful of people that I run into semi regularly that I know have this affect on me. One of whom is my quiet, retiring dairy farmer neighbor. I’m quite certain the first time “we” talked, I stunned him back into his silent, friendly wave for the next three years with my outpouring of blabber.

Then there are others, the really sneaky ones whom I’m convinced know just what they are doing. They watch and laugh behind their eyes as I talk on, sounding more and more like a lunatic, until I desperately wrap up the entire conversation and run.

I know who you are.

I know what your doing.

I can see the laughter in your eyes.

Unfortunately I can’t seem to stop myself.

Logomania – it’s a problem.

Originally written (over two years ago) in response to an episode of Prompts for the Promptless. Turns out I’m so promptless I can’t even follow a promptless prompt in a prompt manner. Thanks Rara (and Dave too) for the inspiration, sorry it’s a bit late!

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17 comments on “The Quiet Ones

  1. A. Mouse says:

    I am one of the quiet ones. And often, I can tell when others are, too. Which is why I love them (you) for talking and filling the silences despite yourself. 🙂

  2. jenanita01 says:

    I too, am one of the quiet ones too. Far better off behind a PC screen, I can usually chat away much easier than before. I am talking to so many people these days, I don’t know myself!
    I would love to be one of those super confident ones, though…

  3. I can’t get the hang of this talking thing, either. I’m OK with a small group of friends, but I can’t stand having to make small talk at social occasions. Why does a simple thing like talking have to be so hard?

    • Jessie says:

      It’s crazy when you think about it. We’ve all been doing it since we were tiny, you’d think we’d be practiced enough by now to pull this whole “conversation” thing off flawlessly!

  4. I’m not joking when I say I’m in counseling, partly for the stress I feel to carry conversations. I’ve said so many things I regret when I take on the responsibility to fill the silence with something…anything. I’m learning to let people be who they are…if they’re quiet, honor (even celebrate) who they are. But I also have to honor who I am, and who I am is someone who has lived with tremendous obsessive regret over turning into a blathering fool because she is more concerned about making other people feel comfortable than maintaining her dignity and sense of who she is. I’m just learning how to be around a group of people and only take on my share of responsibility. If it makes any sense, it’s been really freeing to let things be awkward, so that I don’t walk away feeling like an idiot! This has probably been wayyyy TMI, but I can totally relate to your logomania!)

  5. dianeschuller.com says:

    oh that’s hilarious! But I CAN relate in some way because in school I was very much that way. Wouldn’t put my hand up, even if I KNEW the answer. Everyone thought I was real dumb. Heck even if the teacher called on me, I wouldn’t answer, even if I did know the answer — now that’s bad! I began to come out of my shell in high school and have never looked back. With one exception. I hate and am very uncomfortable making phone calls. Hate them. Won’t do it.

    • Jessie says:

      That’s interesting. Same grade school reaction to answering questions (I NEVER raised my hand) and I also started coming out of my shell in high school but now you have to pry me off a phone. Phones I’m good with, it’s groups of people I still have issues with.

  6. Dan says:

    I was always painfully shy in school. I would never speak up in class unless it was within small group exercises with people I knew. I have the mortifying memory of being asked by the teacher in front of the whole class to give my opinion on whether the girl I liked* and her friend should sit together, being too disruptive as they were (*i’m pretty sure the whole class and teacher knew I liked the girl – looking back it was obvious and cruel to single me out). I squeaked out ‘together’ and lo and behold they got split up, lol

    I think I became a lot more outgoing when I went to University – and that was after working for 8 years after school – so I’ve been shy for most of my young life. Now I will speak up in group situations and even take the lead when necessary. I now have the confidence to speak up front her people and make sure Thor opinions are heard.

    Since I started volunteering over a year ago I’ve dramatically increased in confidence. I’m running a group training workshop next weekend that I would never volunteer to do when I was younger. I led an interview with a candidate yesterday – little me!

    Public speaking has always been a massive fear for me, but by the time we got married two years ago, I actually enjoyed standing in front of a room of 82 people and talking about our relationship – and I have the video and transcript to prove it. I could have spoken a bit louder but I actually did okay! I even made people laugh(!)

    I think everyone has anxieties around social situations, even if it’s not always obvious. I’m definitely not the loudest voice in the room, but I do push myself out of my comfort zone now. It also works both ways: I’ve been known situations where the other person just clearly wasn’t interested in having any kind of conversation with me and that’s *very* uncomfortable, not to mention rude! I can be confident but if I find myself in a situation where neither of us is talking I start to get uncomfortable and end up blathering like you said. With the right people, I don’t mind the silence; but with new people especially I sometimes come away feeling like a blubbering mess. I try to be chatty to put them at ease but I probably come across as really full on, which is so not me (although have just spat all the above out you might be thinking otherwise..!)

    • Jessie says:

      Good for you! It’s hard to push out of that comfort zone when you start out shy.

      Someday I’ll write about my capoeira experience. Look up a youtube video or two if you don’t know what it is. And just imagine, shy, doing something you are brand new at, have no confidence in yourself in while in a circle of people who are all staring at you!!! But I’m still doing it! 🙂

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