If you ask my mum, she’ll say that I’ve always been a quiet child, one of the side effects of being born so premature, or so she says. I’m not so convinced though. I remember faint memories of a carefree young girl, running around, loud and confident, but maybe that’s the girl I choose to remember.

Here’s the thing, I’m shy. Painfully shy.

People who know me well would probably laugh at that statement. I’m opinionated, friendly, and sarcastic to a fault. But if you don’t know me well, you might never find that out because I’m quiet, so quiet that you might even think I don’t like you.

Some days, I’m confident and out there. On others, I prefer to sit and watch the world go round. I’m quieter than some people, usually in groups when I like to just sit, listen, and chip in when I feel like it. When I’m alone with one or two people, though, you can’t get me to shut up.

It’s just what I am like. I’m having a great time and I’m happy.

A few years ago, my sister and I returned to Brazil to see where we were born and to visit old family friends. My Portuguese was rusty and awful but I understood everything being said, I just couldn’t speak it very well. So, I handed the ropes to my sister. One evening while we were with an old friend, she turned to my sister and said, “Is she always this quiet or is it the language barrier?” my sister regarded me and answered, “She’s always like that…she observes.”

It was the first time anyone had brought it up matter-of-factly and I actually thought about it; she wasn’t wrong. By that point, my Portuguese had gotten better, but I remained as quiet as I had been when I couldn’t communicate.

I never really saw anything wrong with being quiet. I just don’t speak as often as others. Until some time ago, someone told me that being around me can take some effort with having to pull me into conversations and all. It made me feel self-conscious and, honestly, for a while, I started to wonder what was wrong with me.

I started to analyze my behavior and began obsessively wondering what people were thinking about me.

Was I making the conversation awkward? Did I need to chip in more so they realized I was listening? Had I become someone who no one really wanted to be around but were too polite to say so? I tried, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t change the quietness that had become a fundamental part of me and it made me hate myself.

So I did what an anxious, on-the-verge of a breakdown Mitta does, and asked the people I love most about it. I have a large group of friends that I’ve known for a decade and I’m definitely the quietest out of them all. I asked my friends about it and put them on the spot.

They assured me that they love me as I am and I think that realization is what made me stop caring. It’s easy with them though, there is no effort required and I haven’t thought about it since.

I don’t want anyone to put in the effort to pull me into a conversation. I want them to be okay with the fact that I will involve myself when I want to.

In a way, I have found myself a little bit more by having that discussion and facing it. It’s also made me understand other aspects of my life better. I’ve always loved written words, immersed myself in books and far-away lands. I know that I can convey myself much better by writing something down rather than saying it aloud. So, it’s no surprise that I took to Twitter so well. It’s a way of saying what I’m thinking without having to physically say it.

The thing is, being quiet isn’t a defining or overarching trait and it’s not a terrible thing. It’s just a thing.

It’s as much a normal part of me as anything is and it’s a shame that I was made to feel like it wasn’t. It doesn’t mean I’m meek or boring, it doesn’t mean I’m hard to be around. All it means is when I say something, it’s usually great and you’ll want to be listening.

  • As Senior Now & Beyond Editor, Mitta is on a quest to make science relatable and popular. She is based in the UK, in the countryside far away from humans. Mitta has a law degree but has somehow ended up in the wondrous land of writers. She writes everything from poetry to short stories and hopes to finish her novel one day. Additionally, Mitta can be found avidly reading or playing with her cats.