As a little kid did anyone else watch everyone else play all those games like patty cake, lemonade, and concentration and stuff with their friends at like summer camp or at lunch and think “oh I want to play too” but u didn’t have any friends so u werent really jealous cuz u just weren’t but u would imagine urself playing those games with ur friend who didn’t exist?
(it’s not me, I’m a sensitive lil person🥺)
i wanna watch some anime on the TV and mom already said i can but as always i always get nervous about it cause i dont wanna force her to watch it with me
We feel the same way, you and I. We want to cry at the top of our voice but we find nothing where the tears were supposed to be. We struggle to get of bed but as soon as we do, no one can really tell we have been faking this ear to ear smile all day. We suffer when our fears entangle around our neck but breaking out doesn’t seem possible because our legs are trembling and we feel weak in our knees. We are surviving each and every second without being alive. We are reaching out but towards the dead end.
I was a shy/quiet kid at school; and bullied because of it. My teachers and parents also gave me a hard time for it; taking the same side as my playground tormentors, they too picked at me about why I didn’t speak, why was I so quiet, why didn’t I put my hand up more?
They didn’t understand how I couldn’t help it; that being quiet is just the way some kids are. My shyness my silence made me weird strange wrong. It was something to be fixed; to be overcome. Teachers would talk about how I needed to come out of my shell participate more and my parents would nod and agree coming back home from parents’ evenings disappointed in me…
All this has come up after I read a book about how the (UK) education system upholds the extrovert ideal and the struggles faced by quiet students/teachers as a result.
The book says that for quiet children to thrive, “they need to feel emotionally comfortable”, and, “The first step towards building confidence in quieter students is learning to understand each individual and why they might be more reticent: next comes sensitive encouragement and support. Always bear in mind that there is a link between emotional competence and achievement.”
I didn’t experience anything like this. No attempt was made to understand my shyness/introversion. It was just deemed to be a weakness something not good enough about me that needed to be done away with, grown out of. Instead of being treated with sensitivity, I was shamed and stigmatised. Instead of being encouraged and supported in my quiet ways, shown how to make my innate nature work for me, I was told I couldn’t do certain things because I wasn’t ‘outgoing enough’.
Emotionally comfortable? Ha, hardly. The messages I was sent, the way I was treated, by my parents and teachers, never mind my mean girl tormentors, had a real deleterious effect on my self-confidence, the impact of which still reverberates through me today.
Why didn’t anyone try to help me? People could see I struggled socially; but instead of trying to understand that, all I got were dictates to come out of my shell, to pipe up more. Left to struggle alone to face my bullies every day no one reassured me actually supported me.
What difference would it have made had I received some affirmation for my inborn quiet ways; heard ‘it’s okay to be quiet’ every once in a while? What more could I have achieved? What more could I have become? Had the wings of my potential not been clipped by being told that being quiet is wrong wrong wrong.
It makes me ache to think that there could still be kids going through what I went through, as schools continue to perpetuate the extrovert ideal, equating sociability with good mental health and the prospect of future success.
The quiet kid in class still sets alarm bells ringing in their teacher’s head; the student who sits by themselves on their lunch break must surely be depressed; silence and solitude are allowed when ordered by the teacher, but the kid who expresses a preference for either? Well, what a weirdo! After all, what kid doesn’t want to be playing, chatting and shouting about?
This lack of understanding and acceptance of quiet children is even more baffling in the context of the increasing emphasis in the (British) school curriculum on promoting empathy, diversity and inclusion; and on character education, which seeks to promote pupil’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
There’s still a lot of unconscious bias at work in our schools against introverted/quiet/shy pupils; they’re treated, spoken about, and viewed in ways that simply wouldn’t be tolerated in relation to other innate characteristics/personality traits. A teacher wouldn’t say to a pupil who’s struggling to read, ‘you’re not DYSLEXIC, are you?’; and yet they’d have no qualms saying ‘you’re not SHY, are you?’ to a pupil who prefers to keep schtum.
It’s precisely stuff like this that undermines/contradicts all the lessons about how important it is to respect each other’s differences. ‘Embrace your uniqueness!’ children are told. Unless what makes a child unique is how much quieter, calmer, and contemplative they are compared to their classmates. Then they’ll be encouraged to ‘come out of their shell’ in order to meet our extrovert-biased society’s model of a healthy/normal child i.e. one who is more sociable.
And whilst there’s a lot of noise being made – quite rightly – in schools now about the importance of children’s mental health and wellbeing, teachers (and parents) don’t seem to realise how much damage they’re doing to a kid’s sense of self-worth when they point out their quietness or shyness, like it’s a bad thing; something that needs fixing.
There’s a lot more awareness of introversion these days; certainly more so than when I was at school. But so ingrained does the extrovert ideal continue to be in society, that introverted children remain fair game; ending up stigmatised and shamed for something they can’t help being.
It doesn’t seem to have seeped through enough - that central notion - that quiet is inborn; and therefore, commenting on a kid’s quietness like it’s a bad thing, something that needs fixing, is as unacceptable as it would be to comment on any of their other innate characteristics; and any attempts to single out and shame, question and criticise, bully and belittle them - a CHILD, for christsakes - for their introverted/shy/quiet ways is just goddamn not on.
Perfect sunday ✨
“But what if you admire the hyperthymic among us, but also like your calm and thoughtful self? What if you love knowledge for its own sake, not necessarily as a blueprint to action? What if you wish there were more, not fewer, reflective types in the world?”
Quiet by Susan Cain