The Sounds of Silence

As verbose as some of my blog posts can be, I’m a pretty quiet person in real life.

I come from a family of bookish nerds, so I’m introverted by nature and nurture, which probably has something to do with it. Another piece of it is self-preservation, I guess. Years of observation have taught me that sometimes stupid things come out of people’s mouths. I still say the darndest things, so it’s not like silence makes me immune, but it definitely cuts down on the sheer volume of dumb things I could be saying.

Well. Sometimes.

On the other hand, I can say dumb things without actually speaking.

There are some serious drawbacks to being quiet, though. I regularly get knocked over by people who don’t hear me behind them, and I’m 90% sure that if I choked to death in my apartment, no one would notice for a few days. I could probably solve those problems by wearing jangly jewelry and buying one of those Life Call things, respectively, so they aren’t high on my list of grievances, but there’s one side effect of silence that really bugs me. Because I don’t talk much (unless I’ve had two or more beers and then good luck), I think a lot of people assume I’m boring or don’t have much of a personality. This is not cool. There’s a host of negative adjectives I’d rather have applied to me than boring.

Things I’d Rather Be Than “Boring”

– Hairy

– Smelly

– Misanthropic

– Cynical

– Short-tempered

– Rabid

– Fish-mouthed

Unfortunately, I can’t really take issue with being characterized that way. I don’t base jump. I’ve never swum with sharks. I’m not a tortured artist. One time I accidentally stole a pair of bowling shoes, but that’s about as wild and crazy as I get. Frankly, I am kind of boring. I knit for fun. I spent last weekend stripping the paint off my old, weird-looking dresser. Sometimes I catch myself sitting on the couch, zoning out and staring at the wall. I wish that was a joke.

This should be a non-issue, because I kind of like being boring. I just feel really, really guilty about it. This is partly Theodore Roosevelt’s fault and partly due to my poor small talk abilities. It’s one thing to think, This furniture project is inexplicably fulfilling! I think this is the path to enlightenment! I’m zen now! Who needs the Buddha!? It’s another thing to go into my staff meeting on Monday mornings and say, “Uh. I took the paint off a dresser this weekend and it was… it was kind of fun.” It’s even worse when a date asks about my hobbies and I have to say, “Um. I have this dumb blog?”, which doesn’t even begin to cover the emotional wringer these posts put me through more often than not.

I make this face throughout the entire writing process.

I make this face throughout the entire writing process.

I don’t think I’m that dull, either. Just because I’m not talking doesn’t mean I’m not having a thrilling internal debate on the merits of Han Solo versus Indiana Jones, or thinking about how I’d like to be made into a diamond upon my death. (I want to be put into a tiara and stipulate that one of my friends wears it at all times.) Also, sometimes weird things happen to me, like the time I answered the door for the police without pants on, or the time I went out with Mitt Romney’s bus driver, who turned out to be secretly kind of famous. On the other hand, I think Zeppo Marx could say weird things happened to him. There’s a chance I’m just the occasional straight man to a zany universe.

The problem is that very few of the exciting things that happen to me are 100% workplace- or date-appropriate. Sometimes when I get home from work, I sit around and watch reruns, but sometimes I practice making pterodactyl noises, which is the opposite of boring. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell anyone about that because there’s a fine line between being exciting and being crazy, and I’ve never been great at those subtle distinctions.

Maybe I need to incorporate some more exciting things into my conversation to jazz it up.

Pictured: Louis Armstrong, jazzing it up.

Pictured: Louis Armstrong, jazzing it up.

Exciting Things I Could Do

– Use more exclamation points!

– Recount the scarier scenes from the Mummy movies in detail and claim they happened to me!

– Start some conversations by jumping out at the person I need to talk to!

– Incorporate edgy humor, maybe through a sexist standup routine at the beginning of every chat!

– Get some mood swings involved!

– Carry sparklers around with me!

– Serve dessert halfway through every interaction!

I’m not saying talkative people are more interesting than quiet people. I also don’t believe quiet people have the market cornered when it comes to secret depths. The people I find most interesting don’t necessarily have a cool skydiving, or bear-punching*, or travel story, but they always have bizarre quirks. I used to live down the hall from a guy who kept all of his clothes hangers exactly one inch apart, and he was way more fascinating to me than his roommate, whose chest tattoo told some (incredibly stupid) stories

Maybe being intriguing is more about your internal experiences than your external ones. The external ones help shape you, sure, but if you’re relying on them to keep you interesting, I suggest investing heavily in sparklers and cupcakes just in case.

Whee!

Whee!

*This is a lie. Some of my favorite stories involve bears getting punched.

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77 comments

    • nosharingplease

      I agree with you. Sometimes typing is really easier than explaining things to people. Haha

  1. LisaR @ Who Stole My Baby?

    Isn’t the internet nice? Now, us “boring” people can get online, type up a bunch of funny posts, and at least some people will find us interesting. That’s what I did. The problem with that is that now when people see me in real life, they expect me to be hilarious. I’m just not that funny in person. It gets kind of awkward.

  2. 2halvesofakaleidoscope

    haha thats one funny post XD
    silent people are normally the funniest one:)
    maybe if u have time u can check out our blog:)

  3. brokenbelladonna

    For your quiet, see my ‘nice’. I’m ALWAYS Being told I’m nice. I even have people apologise for posting offensive facebook status’ (which I think are funny) because they say I’m ‘too nice to have to read them’. Caught up with an old college friend recently, he told me he remembered me because I was ‘nice’. If only they knew the homicidal thoughts that run through my head ;-)

    Stereotypes are not all that fun!

  4. emisformaker

    I’ve always had my quietness interpreted by others as being snotty, and I’ve never understood that. I just have no idea what to do or say in most social situations, until it comes to reciting movie quotes or relating pieces of obscure trivia. At that point, I become the life and soul of the party*!
    *Provided the party enjoys Monty Python, Invader Zim, or everything you ever wanted to know about rabbits/vampires/nutrition, but were afraid to ask.

  5. Sasha

    I’m one of the talkers, can’t help myself, and many times hate that I’m like that. I’d rather be quiet personally. I mean, I don’t talk all the time because I’ve practiced the art of listening but yeah… talker. Based on your blog, you are anything but dull. And the great thing about quiet people is that you can be quiet with them. I have friends like that and we sometimes all sit and just do our own thing. It is just nice to be together. Also, many quiet people, not all though, are usually the wiser folk in the group. They listen, they interpret, they see where what people are saying fits into their lives or just in life in the general sense.

    There is a wonderful TEDtalk about introverts. I highly recommend it if you are into watching those. I wish I remembered the name….

  6. Sasha

    Sorry, my iPad wouldn’t let me finish writing my comment, grrr. The TEDtalk is by Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts. In case you are interested. :)

  7. lottiekristine

    Ahh this reminds me of my younger self , I always gave of this unfriendly vibe , but once people got to know me they found out I was an absolute looney from the looney bin aha :D

  8. bluryourwords

    Cool article. Using more exclamation marks is really not necessary ;)
    Anyway, sometimes the cute boys get interested in the enigmatic girl with interesting things to say. (Just trying to reassure myself there…)

  9. TJLubrano

    *raises hands* I’m a quiet person myself. I have the occasional outburst of complete randomness, but don’t be surprised if I just sit silently and stare in the distance. I have pretty interesting conversations with the many doodle characters and cupcakes in my head :) Brilliant piece!

    Speaking of cupcakes. Oh my gosh! HOORAY for cupcakes and sparkles! *twirls around*

  10. reginajackson69

    Reblogged this on voicelesssoulsdotorg and commented:
    I found this blog interesting, sometimes when a person is silence you don’t don’t know what their thinking. ad that’s the scary part. Please always make noise. and the fishy mouth part made me laugh… you know if your mouth smelled of fish you would handle it quick. just saying, but I get your point.

  11. nosharingplease

    I totally agree with you. I am quiet myself and I guess we have our own craziness that actually make us interesting. It’s just that it may not appeal to everyone. I am quiet primarily because of the fact sometimes people may misunderstand what I’m saying so I’m kind of lazy to really explain myself. And yes, a blog gives you more room to really express your thoughts clearly and insert the things we don’t normally talk about.

  12. pulpfictionme

    ah yes, the joys of making noise. It was about five years ago at a party at my house a few beers deep and I had a thought “I am really funny drunk. What if I lived my whole life like this without alcohol?” So over the past five years I have been perfecting my craft at being drunk sober. Sometimes I say things then think “I can’t believe I just said that?” Then resume skipping around shouting Justin Beiber at the top of my lungs or some catchy song.

    It is funny you mention bear stories. My friend is getting a tattoo of a bear on his arm. His grandpa used to own a small ice cream shop in Alaska. At the end of the night he would leave the ice cream in bins outside for the bears to eat. He would take pictures of all the bears as they came and put them on his wall. He eventually named every one and kept a log of them. Over time he slowly started to trust them to a point of putting ice cream on his face and letting them lick it off! Even if I trusted bears, I don’t think I would ever do it.

    My new hobby in life is discovering how I can turn what people say into puns. Everyone is a comedian in my circle of friends. Often, people aren’t even trying. Sometimes when people speak to me, my eyes glance at the ceiling and my mind instantly starts thinking “how can I turn what they just said into a pun?” Most of my day is spent making jokes and laughing.

    After just reading your blog it would be a shame to keep such a beautiful mind tucked away and stored and left un-discovered. Even though by nature you are reserved, I would challenge you to begin to open up. If you never speak then no one ever knows. :)

  13. kellyscott57

    great stuff..
    I find that sometimes letting folks come over can get to be more and more and more>> if you get my drift? i’m not a person who wants te constant visitors???? I recall a Saturday night live?? and “he thing that would never leave ?” talking about just that??? friends come over? and stay longer than we hope??? or make so much noise??? Im lonely yes but ill take being lonely than the constant can we come over again?????

  14. salaamreaders

    Hello kindred soul!
    You touched a raw nerve.Sometimes I wish I could talk as much as some of my friends but mostly do not know what to say? Wish I could write half as well as you do!

  15. waynelaw

    Add hilarious to that list and put it above boring…that was great…so many on WordPress try to be funny but you are the zen master with this one.

  16. tua1992

    Yes! Exactly- Talkative people can be very very boring (me). Bear punching; is that legal to talk about it in public? Oh and PS: where did you get that shirt!!
    Your blog is funny. That post is so honest that its funny. Press-able of course!

  17. bernasvibe

    Enjoyed your write..I’m the total opposite..Very much a talker..I even talk with my hands & my whole body..Lol..Some of the things that flow from my lips, my thoughts, surprise even me..I guess I just want to express my thoughts to others around me; and the only way I can figure out how to do that is by..talking. But as I’ve evolved I’m learning to be a better listener..Its a SLOW process..I believe God gave us to ears meaning we should rightfully listen more than we; talk. Makes sense when I look at it from that viewpoint..However, I’m such a people-person type of social butterfly; that my gift for gab works for me. 2 thumbs UP though for letting me see the quiet side

  18. Zina_G

    Hey, I’m also a quiet one, prone to silence more than chatter. Although, I find that I can speak (chat) away on my laptop more so than I can chat away in person. I often don’t have much to say neither, allowing everyone else to have the spot light while I listen and observe the many quirks the other listeners have. I’m more amused by simply observing than actually speaking. Meh, the world needs listeners, as I’ve just pointed out in my most recent post.
    Great entry!

  19. Dale

    ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzrrrrrr ZZzzzrrrrrr….. Oh Sorry!
    Must have dozed off!
    Try learning WordPress courses, then you will REALLY get boring. Don’t worry though, you’re in good company by the looks of it.

  20. blackinkedpen

    “Maybe being intriguing is more about your internal experiences than your external ones. The external ones help shape you, sure, but if you’re relying on them to keep you interesting, I suggest investing heavily in sparklers and cupcakes just in case.”

    I completely agree to that.

  21. mirrorgirl

    I like your title (the sound of) and think that makes you very interesting! I also like the fact that you make me laugh and feel touched at the same time. I think you should try bringing sparklers, than I promise I shall wear just one shoe the whole day on work tomorrow:D

  22. abearbyanyothername

    Hey, go easy on the Bears… some of us are quite quiet too, and then we start to write… Barely spoke a word today, until the cockerel attacked me (brave, yet stupid… could apply to us both) What is it today with people picking on Bears?
    Thanks for posting though… and it’s true, I much prefer quiet and quirky partners.

  23. Andrew Thompson

    I’m a fan of your writing process face. Be careful though, because the pharmaceutical industry might pick up on it as something they can market pills for (either to achieve the face, or alleviate the social ramifications of permanent writer’s face). Thanks for sharing a really fun post. Best wishes to you!

  24. bdh63

    Loved your post. I like to chat with others, but I also like my alone time, that’s when I write. I love to write, because I get to think about what to say, and I love to think. I’m glad you know yourself well enough to give yourself what you need. I wish we all did.

  25. dmchale

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Your writing is invigorating and so deserving of being spotlighted on WordPress.
    You have an authentic voice that is rare on this forum. Keep up the good work..you have a fan in me and I will be following your blog closely. Bravo! Dennis http://www.dlmchale.com

  26. The Bumble Files

    You’re so funny, Stephanie. Not boring at all! As far as staring at the wall, I think you’re just giving your very edgy and complex mind a break. I like your suggestion about jumping out at someone when starting a conversation. That you don’t see everyday, and maybe never. Ha!

  27. sareids

    I love your post! I sometimes feel like I need to find a way better my conversation skills so that I can be more interesting to the crowd at work. I am guess I seem too serious or people don’t have much to say to me. I am working on it, but I know that when people get to know me – they will love me for who I am. You should know that too!

    Great post! Keep writing!!!! (Notice how I got all those exclamation points in!!!!!)

  28. herlife101

    You’re funny! If you want to check out my blog that’d be cool. Just started and ill be talking about some funny stories and just posted one tonight. Thanks!

  29. DrFrood

    Your face you pull throughout your writing process? That’s my general look…

    Exclamation marks are what dull people use to demonstrate that they’re fun and quirky and flighty and interesting. Or as (I think) Roger Ebert put it, ‘stop using exclamation marks; it’s like laughing at your own jokes.’

    I think the trick is to look at lead guitarists from the 60s and 70s and practice their looks in the mirror until whenever strangers see you they say to themselves ‘wow that Listful person’s facial expression makes her look like a guitarist with mystique – how interesting she clearly must be. Boy I better not say anything stupid because this person is a literal mystery.’

    I can’t promise that some people won’t just think you constipated, however…

    Or the sexist stand-up routine, that works too.

  30. murphyji

    Yes I know that noise. Somewhere I’ve written down ‘peace is not when the noise on the outside ceases but the noise on the inside’ Just thought, as you do, that it had some relevance to your blog, or was that just more noise? Enjoyed. Best wishes

  31. ilovedrawing22

    Hey there ! I felt a great affinity reading your blog ..! :)
    Its the first blog i have ever read and im just amazed that i could find that there are many people who are the same .. And im one of them ..

  32. pastramibasket

    I love the idea of passing off events from The Mummy as your own life. My conversation starter for a while would usually be to tell the story of when I would dress as an old woman in order to Nanny my children and re-connect with them.

  33. westwickletimes

    I’m a bit of a introvert myself, and often get described as ‘quiet’. Which I find slightly annoying.
    An old woman where I work once said: “I can’t stand quiet people. I mean, they’re just so selfish. Everyone struggles to find something to say sometimes. They should make more of effort.” I just said “Mmmm…” and carried on reading my newspaper.

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