Though the title may seem self explanatory and indicative by itself, which is something I’d like to believe, I will proceed with my article as if you hadn’t figured what it is I would set forth, despite knowing that half of you are half way to the close tab button. It is necessary to do this in an old fashioned way, though, because, unlike what’s usual for me, this article has a point I’m trying to deliver; and unless I do it the correct, old fashioned, intro-body-end way, I should find myself lost in my own train of thought that’s about to hit a school bus. There it went.
With some luck, and a bit of an exaggeration, I can claim that most of the readers of this article have had friends through their journey to college, some have kept those friends during the five years they spend in it, and a rare one or two keep them after it ends; for the last I should give my condolences for it should be hard indeed to feign the seriousness we tend to feign in our thirties when we have friends who knew us when we were much younger and much goofier. But other than your group of close friends, or what you may call those you dwell with, we also, or, to be more honest, you, knew other distinct type of people; those few individuals that were a little shy, a little quiet or a little distanced from everyone else. They mostly stayed quiet, answered when addressed only, or in some cases, were content with a yes/no nod, and generally stayed in place until something required them not to be. That’s what they behaved and looked like, but, somehow, that was not the only thing going in your mind; by which I mean most people’s minds not yours specifically, although that may mean, statistically speaking, you specifically.
One problem every quiet person has faced on more than a single occasion, is the incorrect perceptions most friendly outgoing individuals think of as the reason for the said quiet person’s quietness and distant-like manners. One most common such perception is that he is quiet because he is either sad or mad. That one is usually from people who meet the quiet person for the first time. They might as well be correct in their Holmesian deductions, but the problem is their standard for what constitutes a natural face. Some people’s natural face is a smile, others is a non-expression face or, if you wish, a relaxed face. This creates the aforementioned problem of imagining you are sad or mad, since you didn’t smile, and smiling is the natural ‘it’s all good’ default setting for the other person. Another common wrong perception is thinking a quiet person is a contemplative one; which translates into thinking quiet people are somehow smarter. This doesn’t need much explaining to point its comicality, which is probably inferred from films and fictional characters, the annoying protagonist from that annoying TV crime investigation show isn’t the least of which.
One more faulty misconception, is that quiet people are anti-socials or misanthropes. I realize I used the former word in the title, but it is, in fact, an incorrect word to describe this type of people; so is misanthrope in this respect. Anti-sociality is not just avoiding society, it involves, by definition, being hostile towards that society; something your average quiet college student mostly hasn’t done since that one time he spammed a girl’s email for turning down his offer at marriage when they were fifteen. A more accurate word is the ‘Asocial’. Someone who, willingly or due to a deficiency, prefers to stay secluded and away from human interaction; the former being a little less than the latter. Then again most of those who choose to be asocials, are doing it for misanthropic reasons, however little.
The other problem quiet people face, aside from the common benign misunderstandings, is what other good natured people do to ‘fix’ them. As I mentioned, if you were a naturally quiet secluded person, for whatever reason, you are, in the eyes of the more lively ones, a shy cripple who desperately needs their help; at times, their public sudden and attention grabbing help. You are thought of as caged in your insecurity and lack of confidence and they, benevolent as they are, will do everything in their power to get you out of your shell and into the dark depths of the wide world; including, and not limited to, getting your opinion on matters that you displayed no interest in before, inquiring about your personal life, asking you to sing, dance or play a game of ‘why are you sad/mad/angry ?’ and up to directly asking; ‘Why are you shy ?!’. I have cut the list of things people would do to ‘cure’ you by half, so as not to seem too knowledgeable about the subject, and questions would arise. Assuming he, the poor individual mentioned above, really is quiet because he is shy, what you are doing is exactly as if you are teaching your three year old son to swim by throwing him in a pool; and that’s how you and me consider it; for a shy person, it would be as if the pool was in the ocean, five kilometres from shore and you told him to swim back using his tongue only, while being watched by five or six other people from the decks of their yachts.
My main point is to demonstrate that quiet people aren’t necessarily what you may refer to as those quiet people, while doing a quotation sign with your fingers, whatever should that signify, but rather they are the same as everyone else with a less quantity of some secret ingredient. Mostly that ingredient is a tolerance or an energy for social interactions. They may like to be social, but in smaller quantities than you, and longer intervals. Just like drugs or cigarettes. Some people smoke greater quantities than others, some smoke occasionally, as a habit, some would love to but can’t for lack of courage or an excess of self control, and some hate it entirely. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that metaphor before; it’s perfect.
Now, admittedly, that quiet person’s quietness could be caused by shyness or low self esteem or what have you; he could be sad, mad or frustrated; he could, in fact, be hating your guts and that’s why he doesn’t speak to you when you pass him in the hallway, or when he pretends to watch the birds as you reach out to give him a hand shake; he may be a genius who thinks you aren’t smart enough to be addressed by him, or a fool who thinks the same. The possibilities are endless, which is why it’s vexing when someone chooses, out of all the probable choices, to think you are silent then you are defected and he should help you by filling the gaps of silence with his small talk. That’s a double metaphor that will most likely be censored.