If I hear one more time that I am a quiet person, I will … never mind!
My “quiet” reputation isn’t news to me but you’d think those who have told me I’m a “quietee” thought it was their job to inform me.
I recall once of someone bringing it to not only my attention but to everyone else in the room. What that person was thinking was beyond me. I wasn’t expecting such from a fellow church member in my Sunday School class. The class members spoke up more than most any other church classes I had attended. I was content to listen to their voices which weren’t always in unison on all topics. There was ample supply of both discussion and debate. Those who offered their opinion knew they were at risk of being countered by another fellow loving member. I had easily maintained my reputation in class of not taking the floor, but such was true of any class I attended.
This was also long before I knew I had autism. I had my opinion and was content to self-talk about it when I was by myself. I would never have given my two cents worth for fear of having to defend it. I’m not a debater! If I am at the head of the table, the sole speaker, I will gladly speak to those who have to listen to me for a change. But when I’m just one of those around the table, my mute button is on.
So on this one Sunday out of the blue, the class member brought it to everybody’s attention that if I ever spoke up, he’d fall out of his chair. It would have been tempting, so tempting, to have spoken just to see if he would take a fall. However, I just smiled but underneath, I was even more determined to maintain my silent reputation.
I have encountered many a time an opposite situation that can be just as painful. I have been “shooshed” about as many times as I have been reminded that I am quiet.
I wish my mouth came with a volume control button. When I am talking one-on-one about a topic dear to my heart, have a strong opinion about, and have much to say about it, my volume goes UP! It is true when I’m conversing on the phone as well as in person. The stronger the point is I am trying to make, the louder I get.
This tendency of mine gave me grief during my a decade of working in a government library. A library is a mine field for getting “shooshed”. A few times it was a supervisor that “shooshed” me. Another time was a library patron who did more than “shoosh” but told me off in front of a few of my colleagues. If he had just said something like “Quiet please!”, it would have been sufficient. I would have gotten the message. It is a good thing the patron didn’t see one of my colleagues throw a piece of trash behind the patron’s back after the patron gave it to me in spades.
In each case of being told, more or less, to be “quiet”, it was an upper cut to my heart. I would try so hard to remind myself to keep the volume down. The “reminder” just wouldn’t enter my mind when I was empathically and/or enthusiastically telling someone “all about it”.
After I learned about my autism, I had an explanation of why I am so quiet amidst people and why I raise my voice when I have an active listener. The explanation didn’t change my reputation for being the quiet one. It didn’t keep me from being told to turn down the volume. It did help me from being so hard on myself. Another thing that helped besides my diagnosis was leaving my library job by way of retirement station.
I still get “shooshed” though but not as often. I am living back with my Mom now. She “shooshed” me when I was a kid and although I am a senior citizen, I’m not too old for her to “shoosh”.