What Are the Quiet Ones Worth?


I like to sip water slowly at dinner parties. Because every minute that my lips are against that glass is a minute I don’t have to speak to anyone. I hear snippets of conversation around me. On one side, people are talking about the latest iPhone.

“You must have gotten it. The newest version is always in your hands the same day it is released.”

“Yes, but this time the limited edition, diamond encrusted, golden-keyed, specially initialed one was sold out. O.M.G. I had to settle for the regular newly released one.”

On the other side, people are talking about new loves.

“Seriously?? You’re going on a date with him! Eee, Ahhh! Now I have to see a pic from Facebook!”

And here I am. Floating somewhere in the atmosphere between two perfectly different social climates. I can’t bear to join any single one (as if I would be a good conversationalist) because I love to listen. As people speak, I note their expressions, speed of speech, and the excitement or dullness in their voice. I take in content and emotion, mix the two, and try to capture the essence of what is happening. In other words, I am an outsider.

When my family moved to a new house, the teachers attributed my quietness to me being the new kid in the class. As the weeks stretched into years, I found myself being persuaded over and over again to “speak up”. The teachers would look my mother in the eye during back to school night and say, “She is quite timid.”

Others have described it as some sort of positive quality. “She always smiles and nods. She is such a happy child. She is well-behaved and patient.”  Still others said withdrawn types were depressed (or was it depressing?) and bad.

But the truth is, the quiet ones are neither. Not incapable of loud speech, nor overwhelmingly good, or so-far-gone bad.

My napkin drops on the floor. I pick it up, and stop daydreaming about quietness and join in. “I downloaded iOS7 too!”

And then I get to slip back into my mind and observe and listen.

You take the present and the current conversation. I’ll take the feelings and the words.


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