“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” — Mark Twain
On New Year’s Eve. I went to a party where I didn’t know the host and I didn’t know most of the people there. My best friend took me and the party people were her friends. Actually, she knew the host and some of the people there. I don’t know why, but it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know everybody either.
I don’t know what it is about parties like these where I don’t know everybody, but I’ve noticed myself lately going into situations like this and reacting kind of shy I guess. The guy who opened the door had a “who are you?” look on his face. But we powered through, came in, found an empty sofa and sat down to a NYE game night. I didn’t have the best time. I shouldn’t say that. I didn’t have the expected best time. I shouldn’t say that either. I had a good time, but not the best in the way I had anticipated. Maybe I best just describe what happened and you can describe it to yourself.
The games were fine. In fact, they were exciting and a lot of fun. They were right up my alley what with guessing words, captioning meme pictures and the like, and I appreciated the fact that our host wanted to check to see if we would be OK with expletives in one. (We weren’t, based off the fact there was questioning involved and mumbling and such.) The party people knew each other, thus they were their funny entertaining selves and while all the other guests kind of look confused with our showing up, one girl had a friendly face on and she ended up being the only one I connected with all evening besides my best friend. Everybody else had their game faces on. (Haha.) I think my brain was slow. I think it had been a long day of fun, but in a good way. Not a long day in the typical sense of the word. Or maybe I just reverted to my old self. But my fear of embarrassment took over and I was suddenly not shy exactly, but not my college self who would have handled the situation with popularity and coolness and boldness.
All of a sudden every game that required me to talk was awkward for me. One of the first ones we played required me to describe a tool I needed to fix a spaceship and ask for said tool and hope someone had that tool on a card that could trade a card with me. For each card I got, anything that had specific instructions on it like “pass all your cards to the left” was easy for me to announce to the players, but anything that I had a tool on it I needed to quickly describe I remained mute in my seat. Time was of the essence, but my brain didn’t get the memo. Our host called me quiet and later labeled my best friend as such. Inside my head I got defensive. I felt my face burning up a little, but I didn’t say anything. (Ha!) My best friend couldn’t hold it in. She got vocal with her defensiveness. I knew the feeling, but I didn’t see the point for me to waste my breath on people I didn’t know. They don’t know me and I don’t owe them an explanation, and it got me thinking people get defensive when they are called quiet. Quiet is seen as a bad quality. I disagree.
I don’t think quiet is a bad thing. It is not automatically a negative trait. Why is it by default seen that way anyway? Quiet is what makes us good observers. Quiet is how we observe the loud ones, the ones who are in love with their voices and end up saying stupid things as a result. Quiet is not a bad thing. It means we are thinkers. It means we are processors. It means we actually think about what we are going to say before we say it. It means we are good listeners. It means we have good ideas and possess enough patience to wait for the right moment to do something and get lucky.
At the same time, I think there’s no need to get defensive if someone calls you that. Once you do, you validate the idea that being quiet is a bad thing. The best thing to do is remain calm, observe, form your opinion of them, and know secretly in your heart that you are better than this, better than what they label you. Who you are is never defined by a single moment. It’s just not that simple. We are all walking kaleidoscopes. As long as you know at the core who you really are, it doesn’t matter what people label you or say about you behind your back. After all, they need you more than you need them.