I’ve always been chatty – cute stories abound from my childhood of my talkativeness – and my carefree spirit. I didn’t understand the concept of not sharing how I thought or what I felt, because I had been raised to think independently, and that others would have their own thoughts and feelings, and would share them the same.
As I grew, it started to become apparent that others do not share the same as me. A lot of people find it easier to keep quiet in situations that might cause conflict, or force them to engage, and some people are just plain private. Some of this took me awhile to understand – and still, I was the talker, the sharer, the one who was told to be quiet.
I am also loud, by nature. I spent so many years being told to be quiet. “You’re so loud. It’s annoying.” or “You just have an opinion about everything, don’t you?” or “Could you not be so outspoken with these people, they don’t really like that.” Somehow, where I was spending my formative years, the value of me speaking out was not seen – not wanted.
I didn’t realize it, but I internalized messages like, if I just agree and don’t make waves, people will like me. Boys wouldn’t be attracted to an opinionated girl, and girls don’t like other girls who are to boisterous. I’d been put down so much for being me, I changed in order to be better liked.
I got GOOD at making people like me – I learned how to ask questions and mirror tone, and not make waves. I also started becoming frustrated when people would tell me, “So and so is so funny,” or “So and so is such a clown.” I’d think, “I’m pretty funny,” or “I’m a clown,” but people weren’t seeing me. They weren’t seeing the real me, anyway.
It’s been a process that has taken me most of my adult years to name, let alone work on. I’m damned near thirty and just now comfortable telling people what I really think about God, my GLBTQI friends and allies, and that there’s a spiritual side to me that won’t quit. I still feel like crap in situations where a group of people needs to discuss something – worried people think I talk too much, am too domineering, and am not a “Nice Christian” who has a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to speech.
Here’s the thing: I can’t shut up. I’m an external processor, I love to communicate, I have to communicate. As I’ve grown up, I’ve become a much better listener, and better at expressing controversial opinions in a non-threatening way, but even so, I feel sometimes that people would rather I toned it down to fit in more. I just can’t. Know that my non-shutting up will always be open to you reminding me to listen when it’s your turn to speak if I forget sometimes, just don’t tell me to quiet my energy – myself.
So I’m left to contend with my desire to be liked, and my desire to be known (through communication). These things shouldn’t be as hard to merge as they are for me, but I fear I shall wrestle with them always.
A prayer for you, my friend.: May the peace of God find you this evening, as it finds me when I’m in those dark (and whiny) places. Amen.