Deconstructing “the quiet girl.”

I have been “the quiet girl,” a label put on me and one I also wore.  I am introverted.  I can be shy.  I enjoy quiet moments.  Sometimes I prefer to listen and observe.  I have sometimes struggled to put words to my opinions or experience, particularly in group situations.

I am also outspoken.

But that’s been a secret of sorts, something I’ve mostly hidden to fit in or feel safe or other reasons. As I allow myself to open, to truly say how I feel – to myself, and to others – I find it’s more challenging to hold back.  I’m not the quietest person in my weekly therapy group/class.  I used to spend a lot of time in various classes tracking who had spoken, when I could find an opening to speak.  And you know what?  It matters less to me now.  It matters to me that I say what I need to.  However, I don’t put so much energy into tracking how much I am speaking, or how much anyone else is speaking.  And honestly, this helps me be more present and express myself more.

I told someone last week that I really don’t like feeling boxed in.  This can happen with others’ judgments, projections, or interpretations of me and my behavior.   I realize that I can do this to myself as well.  I can identify with a box that other people put me in; I can decide that something is true whether it is or not.  I can create my own labels for myself proceed accordingly.  This can be limiting.  It gives less space for change.  It prevents me from seeing the truth of my experience.

And I want to see the truth as much as possible.  I want to embrace who I am in fullness.  However, this can be uncomfortable, and make me feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s challenging to open to this kind of exposure; it often leads to thoughts about going undercover again.  It takes giving myself permission to allow – and not force – myself to be as open as I’d like to be in any given situation, and to stand up for myself as needed.

I want to say to the various people who told me that I was too quiet or not outgoing enough:  that was not helpful feedback.  I was not a weaker person for my silence.  I do not need to be pulled out my shell.  I want respect for the times I need to retreat. And I want the space to be heard, for others to listen to me.

So here’s to deconstructing labels and boxes, and to allowing truth and change.  I don’t have to be quiet.  I don’t have to be loud.  I get to be me.

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