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THE SILENT ONES

I was a pretty darn shy kid. I always behaved very passively in just about every social situation, unless it was a topic or activity that I was very confident in or passionate about. Even then, if I did decide to pop my head out and behave a little more ‘extrovertly’, the smallest sign of potential judgement would have me racing back into my shell. I would kick myself for behaving so loosely and even sometimes feared I would be liked less as a result.

How ridiculous! In a world full of people at either end of the spectrum, why would you fear being ‘out there’ when those that are already a little more ‘out there’ are doing just as fine as the shy types? They’ve all got friends. They’ve all got admirers. So why did I fear what was outside my shell? Why do so many of us fear it?

I think much of it comes down to the fear of being disliked. We all think it is about wanting to be liked, to be accepted. But it can go the other way too. What I feared so much for so long was not so much I wanted everyone to like me, I didn’t actually care much about that. It was more that I didn’t want people to dislike me. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

So if you don’t say much how could anybody not like you? You can’t offend anybody when you’re silent. But is that true?

What we do often see in reality, is that those that do have a voice and like to use it a little more loudly tend to have more of both. They have more likers and followers, but also many more dislikers. The shy and silent don’t really have many of either.

When I behaved as more of a silent type, I was more invisible. I was a bit of a nobody. I was certainly never the popular kid and I was never the kid anyone hated either. Though I did still have people that didn’t like me. I thought it was due to those times I did speak up, but nowadays I think it had much more to do with the times I didn’t speak.

These days I am much more vocal. I share my views, I say what I believe and I involve myself in more conversations. I put myself in the centre more often and as a result I guess I could say my circles have certainly grown. I have many more stronger relationships and a larger following of people. I am also very sure that I have plenty more people that think I am somewhat of a wanker too. The difference from then and now is… is now I don’t give a shit if you don’t like me. Those that don’t like me are irrelevant to me.

The sooner you realise that you cannot please everybody, the sooner you are able to give full attention to your path and those that are most important to you. Not everyone is going to like you or what you do, much like not everyone likes Kim Kardashian. But while people are there paying out on ol’ Kim K, she’s kicking back in her mansion, focusing on living a happy life with her loving husband, her children and all of those that do love and support her. If she spent a second trying to please those that disliked her, she’d distract herself from those that matter, veer off path, and end up stressed and exhausted. She wouldn’t have the life she has (and I am not even referring to the materialistic side) had she allowed the many, many people that don’t like her get her down. It’s just not worth the effort.

Over time I have come to realise that it is so much better to be a little polarising. Polarising people have a view and they share it. They call a spade a spade and what you see is what you get. There is nothing better than a person that says exactly what they’re thinking or what they believe, even if it is offensive. Because with an honest person you know exactly where you stand.

Silent people are the ones that make me uncomfortable and maybe that’s why people tend to neither get too close nor stay too far away from them. Silent people don’t give away anything, but will go and share their thoughts with the few people they feel comfortable with. Their intentions are never to cause upset, in fact it is quite the opposite. But upset and distrust is exactly what they cause. In fear of hurting someone with their opinions in the immediate, they keep them close. But as all secret opinions go, they eventually come out and cause far greater pain than had they been shared openly in the first place.

I would much prefer to spend my time with an honest jerk than a silent ‘nice guy’ that keeps their cards close.

Be open, be honest and don’t fear being vocal about what you believe. Those that you will upset are never the people you needed in your circle in the first place. They’re simply not your people. Those that appreciate your honesty will grow closer to you as a result.

If you stay silent in fear of hurting others, don’t be miffed when you end up hurting those closest to you.

Stu

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