The Shyness Project

It’s Always the Quiet Ones

Sometimes people have preconceived judgments or assumptions about shy or quiet people.

I remember an instance like this in my 9th grade health class, for example.  I didn’t really have any friends in this class except for a person or two that I would occasionally partner up with, and most of the class was divided into distinct “groups”.  I mostly did my work quietly while the others around me would get in their social group and talk all period.

A new girl came to our school, and ended up sitting behind me.  I was sort of friendly at first, but then the more annoying she got the more I withdrew.  She would stroke my back weirdly from time to time or pull on my hair even when I told her to stop.   She was loud and wasn’t afraid to make offensive remarks about people it seemed.

One day, she asked me something like, “You know, the quiet/shy ones are the ones most likely to commit suicide, or shoot their classmates.”  I was flabbergasted (yes, I said flabbergasted) by her comment, and was angry at her for even thinking that, let alone saying that to me.  Just because a few people who have been shy or quiet have been the culprits of school shootings or have committed suicide doesn’t mean that being shy or quiet makes you more likely to do something like that.  Also, shyness is not necessarily linked with low self-esteem, depression, or anger.    I have a fairly healthy self-esteem yet still feel shy.  Sure sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll embarrass myself or get those anxious thoughts, but really it’s all because I want to do well.  I like who I am, even if I do want to improve myself.  I’ve always been one striving for personal growth, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I’m not depressed, though I have felt down from time to time like all people do.  I’ve never felt any hostile feelings toward others; nothing is bottled up or repressed.  And I don’t think it’s fair to assume that someone is feeling any of those things just because you see them as a shy or quiet person.  It’s not “always the quiet ones”, as some people like to say, even when they’re just joking.

What do you think?  Do you think it’s fair to assume the shy or quiet ones are “up to something”?  Does that comment ever annoy you when you hear it?

Some interesting discussions I found about it here:

http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/forum/f26/shy-and-quiet-people-are-dangerous-56788/

http://www.rateitall.com/i-953497-the-assumption-that-its-the-quiet-ones-you-have-to-beware-of.aspx

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21 thoughts on “It’s Always the Quiet Ones

  1. I don’t think it’s always the shy or quiet ones. Me, personally, my shyness had a lot to do with moving at 11 to a new city and I went from being well liked and having friends to being unpopular and made fun of. I always was chunky, wore glasses and had really short, kinky hair so it made the teasing worse. Therefore, I was shy because I was made fun of. I was afraid to be myself in public because I assumed I would be made fun of more the more I WAS myself. I never contemplated coming to school with a weapon or killing anyone, though. I think even in being made fun of as bad as I was, you still have to have that nature in you somehow.
    After I got into college, I was more accepted and it allowed me to start coming out of my shell and letting myself show more. But when I got into acting and other group things and realized that I could be myself and people LIKED me for me, that was why I truly felt open and not as shy.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your experiences Sharon. 🙂 I’ve always lived in the same town, but I can imagine how tough it would be to adjust to a new place where you don’t know anyone, let alone when you start getting picked on. I was picked on in middle school at around the same age, 12 or so, for being too skinny (I was a twig back then), smiling too much, not liking what “everybody cool” liked (rap music, skirts, etc), for my clothes(which weren’t the special brands and were too plain I guess), and for being quiet in general. That probably attributed to my shyness too, as I felt like I wasn’t good enough back then and just wanted to be accepted and not the subject of ridicule of those girls. I can relate to how you said you were afraid to be yourself, I felt the same way before and had to hide that I really liked silly songs from cartoons and movies, that I didn’t know who sang most of the songs on the radio station they always listened to, etc. Even though I had to put up with a lot of crap and harassment, I never thought anything dark like that either. I think it does take a certain thing inside you to be capable of doing something like that, and I don’t think most people have that in them, especially the quiet or shy ones.
      I’m glad that acting has helped you so much, and that you are liked and appreciated for who you are. In high school now I have the feeling of being accepted too, and I know that people like me, and it’s really nice to be accepted and not having to pretend that I’m into something that I’m not.

  2. the girl who treated you that way was a bully. It wasn’t you that drew attention for some perceived issue she was the one with the problem. People with low self esteem will sometimes put others down because it makes them feel superior and better about their own sorry lives.
    Have you seen the movie “Mean Girls”?
    You are clearly bright, funny and articulate.
    Don’t let anyone ever stand in your light.

    • Thank you so much gmom!! I’ve been smiling like a fool ever since I read your comment a few minutes ago! 🙂

      I always kind of thought she was a bully too and was just insecure. She didn’t have many (if any) friends at all and the people she would talk with around me probably weren’t too crazy about her either when she started making rude remarks about them too, which she did. Looking back, I think the other girls who bullied me before were just insecure also and wanted that “superior” feeling and liked being able to hurt me.

      I did see that movie once, though I can’t remember it too well so I’ll have to watch it again sometime. I know Lindsay Lohan played the girl who was being picked on in that movie, and then she tried to fit in with them and their “group” and what not.

      Thank you, I won’t! 🙂

  3. Patti on said:

    Wow – that girl has some serious issues herself, it seems to me. For one thing, she needs some lessons on tact and social interaction. “Bully” sounds like an apt term – she probably thought you were an “easy mark” for a friend that she would boss around and when you didn’t fill the bill she lashed out. From what you say, though, it doesn’t sound like her loud opinions count for much among the other classmates.

    It’s always a challenge to try to befriend, or at least be kind to, people who are so needy that they behave in embarrassing or pushy ways. You’ll encounter them after you get out of school as well.

    • Yeah she was surprisingly rude, and some of the things she said were just so random and unnecessary. She seemed to have a lot of confidence though, except maybe she was just overcompensating for her lack of confidence by overdoing it and making others feel uncomfortable.

      I try to avoid those people, but yes I have come across others like that, and I’m sure there will be plenty more encounters in the future. Thanks for commenting Patti! 🙂

  4. I totally agree with you on shyness vs. self-esteem. The two are NOT necessarily related! That’s one of my pet peeves when someone says, “Oh, shyness is just due to low self-esteem.” “Low self-esteem is just a catch-all phrase these days.

    • Yes indeed, thank you for commenting! It’s hard to say why people are shy and there are different reasons person to person and sometimes not even a reason at all. You can be shy and still have a healthy self-esteem, and I hope more people can understand that and not just assume things about others like that.

      • You have a really good blog by the way, I’ve read some of your posts before and now I’m reading them again! I don’t think there is a way to leave comments though which is why I never commented on your site before when I first came across it.

  5. Pingback: Why do guys marry nice girls if they get bored of them ? | girls numbers

  6. She was just making conversation, in her own twisted way! You’ll meet plenty of weird people in your long life, just take something positive from the experience and move on.

    • Yeah maybe haha, though really, that is the worst way to make conversation! Some people don’t realize how hurtful and annoying it is to hear jokes like that about things like shyness. I’m sure I will, and though I wasn’t very fond of her at the time I have no hard feelings.

  7. Well that’s actually true if you look at the big picture.

    I am not saying everyone that’s quiet is bad but usually I often find that quiet people are hard to predict and depending on their mood you can either learn some interesting tibits of life or get the crap annoyed out of you.

    I hate it when quiet people makes you feele like you are having a one-sided conversation and they just nod their head which when your done all they say is “That’s nice” and I wind up assuming stuff about them that usually is either wrong or they wont’ admit.

    Makes me want to tear all my hair out and scream since I don’t know what to say to get them to talk their opinion either that or I am just a blabber mouth that just likes to shoot crap but I try not to.

    In fact I hope I am not being a blabber mouth too. Lord help me!

    • Yeah sometimes it can be frustrating trying to talk to someone who doesn’t say much to you back. Sometimes people are quiet because they aren’t that interested in talking or other times they are interested but just have a difficult time thinking of what to say. Or maybe they don’t have much to say on that subject but if you asked them about something else, they would have a lot to say! You never know, it’s always worth trying to talk to everyone and see how it goes. 🙂 But if you’re having trouble connecting with someone then that’s ok and it was nice of you to try at least.

      • “Or maybe they don’t have much to say on that subject but if you asked them about something else, they would have a lot to say! “

        That’s how it is for me in work situations. I get asked very simple questions (“Keeping busy?” and “What are you having for lunch?” are some examples) and in return I give basic answers, so people think I don’t have much to say. But if people asked me things that I care more about or that I’m passionate about, they’d get more than one-word answers.

        And I find at times when I do try to engage people in conversation, the conversation tends to be one-sided (they talk and I listen, but when I try to speak I feel brushed off). It’s hard to open up to people when the communication’s not there!

        • Yeah I can definitely relate, when you get asked simple questions, it can be hard to think of much else to say to that! How people ask you questions really makes a big difference, and I admit some topics I just don’t know what to say about, like if someone brought up cars or something I don’t really know much about. I’d probably think of a thing or two to say but I wouldn’t be all that interested in trying to keep a conversation going about that topic. But if we talked about dancing or hobbies or anything like that, I’d have plenty to say! And it also depends if it’s one on one, in a small group, or a larger group.

          That can happen too sometimes for sure. Some people are better communicators than others (and that includes listening and not just talking). It’s nice when people ask you questions too and show interest in what you have to say. Thanks for your comment Dienna! (and all the “likes” you’ve given my posts for a while now!)

      • I know I have a girlfriend that doesn’t have much to say. I am also quiet too. So when we went out we to a ball game and really didn’t say much to each other. We are both quiet because we both have schizophrenia. In my mind I ask, ” Miles should I talk. My voice says, ” wait till she asks a question about the game” Then I wait. Were quiet but also were entertained by the game. The thing is organizing the relationship and where to start and get into a flow.

  8. Kimberly on said:

    Just came across your blog at random and I totally agree with what you have to say. I think that shy/quiet people are the most interesting people to talk to. 🙂
    You can really have epic conversations with these people. A couple of my friends are a little shy. You just have to bring it out of them. They may seem quiet at first but they’re just holding back what great knowledge they have to share. I actually used to be shy myself so I know how it can feel, I’ve been in a similar situation where people who don’t really know you, have all these negative assumptions about you. During class, I’d focus on my work, remain quiet and made little conversation. I was sitting next to an unpleasant girl in an art class. I was quite nice to her, lend her some of my stuff to borrow and such. She didn’t know anyone in that class so she tried to make friends. By making friends, I mean by whispering these snide comments about me to other people. I knew she was saying shit about me so I sat there ignoring her presence and continued listening to my music and did my work. She’d pick at little petty details about me and make some big deal about it. Really it must be so unfortunate to sit next to me. But yer, she was saying something about how rude or inappropriate it is to listen to music in class. At the end of the class, the teacher had a small discussion about bringing music to class and that it was fine as long as you respect your teacher. Sure it’s rude to listen to music while somebody is talking, but this girl is trying to find every reason to scrutinize me. For what reason, I’ll never know and I don’t wish to find out but I do wish I was a little more social in class. I could have made things a lot easier being in class.

    • Yeah that girl sounds pretty annoying, I’ve definitely met characters like her before who try to win the approval of others by picking on someone. In class I’m usually more quiet too because I like to really pay attention and get as much done in school as I can to save time. And yeah I’ve met several people who have been deemed quiet/shy and they’re really awesome people! I don’t think being more soft-spoken makes you any less interesting. Thanks for your great comment!

  9. I can relate to being misjudged because I’m quiet until I truly know someone well. Some people have mistaken me for a snob, and others think there’s nothing going on upstairs (I may be a daydreamer and be in my own little world from time to time, but I’m no moron). If people took the time to talk to me and get to know me better, they’d find out that their opinions of me are far from the truth.

    • Yeah some can be quick to judge or make assumptions about others and it’s no fun to be on the receiving end of that. If we all took more time getting to know the people around us we’d get a better understanding of who they really are and not just who we think they are. Thanks for writing!

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