She is sitting in the cafeteria with her group of friends. There are 10 of them. She loves being with them, cracking jokes and pulling each other’s legs.
They discuss anything and everything in the world. She is an active participant as well.
So what do you think about the above scenario? How would you perceive the girl to be? Someone who mingles with everyone well, outgoing?
She is waiting for the bus at the bus stop, phone in hand, earphones plugged in. As soon as the bus arrives, there is a scramble of at least 20 pairs of feet, trying to get into the bus. Even though this was the routine for the past five years, she still feels uncomfortable with so many people coming into her bubble of personal space. She finally gets in and her eyes search for what it searches every day – the window seat. To her delight, there is one right near the entrance. She rushes in to occupy it, relieved and happy. She settles into the seat with the earphones and puts on a song and stares out through the window, observing the life unfold around her and occasionally drifting off into a daydream. Suddenly, she hears a voice saying, “Nice weather today, is it not?”
“Oh, no! Small talk alert! Small talk alert!”, her mind starts giving out full-fledged alarms.
But she manages a smile and says, “Yes. “ and turns back to the window, hoping she doesn’t get dragged into a conversation again.
Scenario 3 :
She gets a call from one of her friends saying, “Hey! We are planning to go to this place which you always wanted to go. Are you coming?”
“Oh is it? At what time?”, she asks trying to make up her mind.
“Around 11. And hey, some of my other friends will also be tagging along, if you don’t mind.”
Now it was easy to decide. “Oh shoot! I won’t be able to make it. Maybe some other time”, she says, hanging up and curling into the bed again with the book in hand.
What do you think about the above scenarios? How would you perceive this girl to be?
Same cafeteria as in scenario 1. Same people. She loves being with them. She talks animatedly with them. Suddenly, they are joined by 3 others who happen to be friends of her friends. She stops talking and puts on her smile. She becomes quiet and withdrawn and goes into her comfort space of observing conversations without participating in them.
Now how would you perceive the girl to be?
The girl in all the scenarios is the same. Did you think the girl was rude? Or anti-social? For those of you who did not think that way, thank you! For those who thought so, this is for you.
We are not rude. We are not anti-social. We are not against social interactions. We are just introverts. We do not know how to make small talk, we take time to open up to people, we need alone time and because of all these, we come across as aloof, when in reality, we are not.
The most common question that I have been asked all through my life, especially childhood is, “Why are you so quiet?” While I think, “What should I talk? Is it wrong to not talk when I don’t feel like?”, I just used to smile and reply with a shrug, “I am like this.” And if it was any elder who had tried to talk to me, seeing that they are not able to get me to talk, would continue, “You should not be like this. You need to talk more. What are you going to do when you grow up?” And my reply would be, you guessed it right..a smile. There have been many times in my childhood when I have thought there is something very much wrong with me and many a time I have come close to tears while trying desperately to talk something, without making a fool of myself, on hearing the question, “Don’t you talk anything?”
It took me a great deal of time to accept that this is how I am and not feel sorry for myself. Though I feel that society, in general, doesn’t take much notice of introverts and what we have to offer, there are people who give us a chance. There are people who asked me why I am so quiet but chose to stay and see what I am like behind my quiet exterior. And then there are those angels who never asked me that question even once, gave me the space to open up and even defended me vehemently when anyone else asked me the question in front of them. They ended up being my best friends.
Do not judge us for being the way we are. Just because we don’t talk much, it doesn’t mean that we do not have anything to say. You might end up being surprised at just how much the “quiet” boy sitting next to you has to say. Give him a chance. Gain his trust. Become his friend and see the magic of his thoughts unfold.