A Case For: Being Yourself Doesn’t Mean Being Loud
For some of us, being yourself is defined by silence
I remember: one night following a particularly busy afternoon playing with my siblings, I laid down in bed with tears escaping my eyes because my body hurt. I didn’t know what muscle pain was then, but I knew that I was hurting. I didn’t tell anyone. When my mother went in to check on me, she asked what was wrong, massaged me and told me to tell her right away if it ever happened again.
But I knew that nothing was wrong; no one did anything to cause me pain. My siblings weren’t complaining, so why should I? But like I was told, I would tell her whenever it happened again—with hesitation.
The story doesn’t seem to be much, but it’s become a sort of metaphor for how I handle things in my life. When I’m having trouble with something, I try not to make a big fuss about it. When I had fights with my friends, only those involved would know about it. When romantic relationships ended, I made sure no one could see me cry.
I am an “after the fact” type of person. I will talk about struggles and will tell friends about something only when the feelings have passed. It’s just how I’m wired. I am uncomfortable talking as it is still going on.
And while this is most true for the trouble I’ve been through, it still holds for the bigger and better things in my life. A friend of mine tells me she never knows when I’m dating (because I only tell them when things have ended). My family doesn’t know of the promotions I get from work or the bonus I work my ass off for.
I like my little bubble, whatever it brings me. For me, it defines “being yourself.”
I never thought this was a bad thing, until I heard through the grapevine that a friend of mine had an issue with it. Why wasn’t I saying anything? Why wasn’t I doing anything to fix things? Why would I go into my rants, only to have them vanish into thin air ten minutes later? I guess I don’t really have an answer to the issues he seems to have with me—except that this is just how I am.
Unless absolutely necessary, I don’t speak up. If I know I can handle it, then what’s the point in bringing everyone else into the shitstorm I am currently feeling? Sometimes (maybe more often, now) I slip; I type out a quick rant about how my nieces aren’t cooperating or how my mother’s incessant requests keep me away from work, or how work takes up too much headspace. But then that’s it. I handle the girls, I do what my mother wants, I get the work done.
It’s funny how they tell you to be yourself, and they mean be loud, say something, do something. But there are people like me (I think), whose core person prefers the quiet—in strife and in success. Is there anything wrong with that?
In the same way that others revel and bloom in their noise, I recharge in my silence. And to answer my self-imposed question: There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes being yourself just means being quiet.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver