The Case for Quietness

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Quietness is not a bad thing.

Growing up, I was the quiet kid. I was the child who liked to be alone in my own little world, the one who hated group work, didn’t like talking to people I didn’t know and didn’t participate in class unless I was forced to do so. Every parents evening, I was met with the same statement every time “she’s a great student but…) (oh the infamous ‘but’) “she’s very quiet. She needs to speak up more in class.” 

And I remember it feeling like an insult. 

My quietness quickly became something I was insecure about, but it wasn’t something I could change. It was just part of who I was. I wasn’t the type of person who would stick my hand up in class. I would quietly get on with things, and I would do them well. 

The thing with being called quiet is that, teachers in particular, are not just calling you quiet. They’re also saying that you’re not confident, you’re not assertive enough, that if you’re not louder then you’re not going to get very far in life. At least, that’s how it feels. When I was called quiet, it felt like I was doing something wrong. And I wish that, just once, I was made to feel like being quiet was okay if it’s what I was comfortable with. That I shouldn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want to do. But I never got that. 

Looking back at it now, as a twenty-two year old I find it quite funny how big of a deal participating in class was made out to be when it’s actually meaningless. I passed my exams to get into secondary school, I passed my GCSE’s, I got the grades I needed to get into University and I graduated with a 2:1, and I can probably count on my hands the amount of times I willingly participated in class. And I think I turned out alright at the very least. 

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