Something that people often describe me as is “quiet”. I have no problem with that at all. Well, not now anyway. I am a quiet person but there is a lot more to it than that. For me anyway, because my quietness is a symptom of my Social Anxiety, which I have had for many years but that is another matter. I want to talk about shyness and quietness in general, especially in school.
Shyness is nice. Yes, I am quoting The Smiths but it is true. Shyness is nice and it is a beautiful thing, yet when I was at school, I felt like being shy and quiet was a bad thing. Teachers used to put me down for being shy and not speaking. In every school report I received, it said “Habiba is a very sensible child but is very shy and quiet and should speak up a bit more.” and that made me feel really really upset because that was who I was yet my teachers wanted me to become someone different and so I felt like I was never good enough.
I craved to be someone who is loud and outspoken because those were the people who were popular and had lots of friends and they were the ones who was most liked by peers and teachers. Because I was quiet, peers did not really understand me or even got to know me and I was an easy target because I did not open up as others did and was afraid to stand up for myself and that is why I usually isolated myself even more leaving me to become this very anxious person I am today.
I feel like the negativity attached to being shy and quiet stops children from enjoying their school life. I sometimes talk to kids in primary and secondary school and sometimes they would say there is a quiet person in their class who has no friends, who always gets low grades and gets picked on and I tell them to talk to that person and become their friend or even smile at them because I know how they feel because I was that person once.
Someone can be shy and quiet for no particular reason, they just are which is absolutely fine. Some can be quiet because they have had some sort of a trauma or they just have stuff going on at home which leaves them to become very quiet in school. You have no idea what someone might be going through so please, do not judge them or be mean to them.
Do not get me wrong, shyness can get in the way of things because for me it did ruin a lot of opportunities and I never really showed people who I was without being shy and if that is you, then do get help. Obviously if you were once a loud person who then became rather quiet, then I would suggest you look into that a bit more and find out why that happened.
However, shyness can also just be a simple personality trait in some but they can still do normal things. Some can be shy in certain situations. Now that I can do certain things that I could not have done a few years ago, people tell me “How can you do that? You are so quiet! I never expected you to do that.” Well, it is hard. of course it is. But, being shy and quiet does not have to stop me from doing certain things that require me to speak. It ruined so much for me that now I am not letting it ruin anything anymore.
For once I am proud of myself for getting this far with my anxiety. Nothing is easy, of course not: I am at university now and even to this day, I still suffer with shyness and still feel awkward every single day of my life and now, it is a real mental illness that I am battling with along with others which does not make not being quiet any easier.
As I got older, I realised that being loud is not the be all and end all. You do not have to be loud to be popular or to be liked. You do not have to be popular either. Who cares? I may be really disheartened by the way my school life panned out but despite all that, I am glad that I stayed true to myself. It is all too easy to say “I wish I was not a quiet person. Things could have been so different” But, it is done now. The past is the past. Yes, I was quiet and shy and I still am, but honestly this is not something I am angry about anymore. This is me.
So, if you are at school, college, university or even an adult who is shy and a quiet person, there is nothing wrong with that at all. Embrace it. If it is getting in the way, get help but just know that shyness and quietness is a lovely trait to have and no one should tell you otherwise.