29 Dec

I have been reflecting on the fundamental differences between different people and what happens when we make the mistake of thinking everyone is the same — or that they should be.

I am an introvert. Some people do not know what this means, although nearly half the population is introverted. We don’t call attention to ourselves as extroverts do. A book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  gave me much to think about.

I was still thinking about the book when I watched a film called The King’s Speech. In the film, two sons of a king are both unsuited for the throne they stand to inherit. One is unable to sacrifice his personal desires for the sake of social rules. The other is uncomfortable with public speaking, due to an unfortunate lifelong stuttering problem.

As I watched the streaming film, my internet connection became repeatedly interrupted so that I could watch only a few moments at a time. The screen had a stutter of its own. This affected my viewing of the film, but added, I think, another dimension to it. I felt that I had an additional understanding of the frustration of the family and friends of the title character, listening to his fractured communication, as I watched the fractured film. The idea of being a king or queen would thrill some but horrify others. I fall in the latter category, in case you can’t guess.

A friend of mine wrote something about the harmful nature of “unsolicited advice“, which is another way of saying “telling others how to live their lives”. I responded that I think unsolicited advice often comes from those who believe others will benefit in the exact same ways from whatever worked for them. If a woman has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of pregnancy and parenthood, she may think that every woman should become a mother. If she has achieved much wealth and personal satisfaction from working in the financial sector, she may think everyone should apply for such employment. Well intentioned advice, perhaps, but thoughtless, unhelpful, and self-centered.

Should we all live the same life, hold the same job, raise our children the same way? I do not believe so. Do we all have the same inclinations, abilities, and traits? Of course not.

I like the title of the book Quiet because this is a term that has often been used to describe me. “You’re so quiet.

The term is accurate, and yet it is used almost exclusively by strangers. Anyone who knows me feels no need to describe me this pointless and impolite way. It would be like commenting on my obvious physical characteristics. Imagine someone who has known you for years saying, “Your hair is so brown!” or, “Your feet are so small today!”

Those who do not know me, unless they are quiet themselves, often see my quietness as a reflection of my mood or my response to them. Am I depressed? Am I bored? Do I distrust them?  They do not consider that quietness is simply a part of my innate character. They certainly are not complimenting me, with the exception of one or two men from foreign countries in which quietness is a more desirable trait than it is in this culture.

We are all different.

Some are loud, some are quiet. Some constantly seek more in life, while others are content with whatever they have. Some are anxious, some are calm. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some are big, some are small. Some are dark, some are pale. Some make jokes, others are serious.

We all contribute something different to the world.

9 Responses to “Different”

  1. bigsheepcommunications December 30, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    LOVE that book – the most validating thing I think I’ve ever read. It was refreshing to view introversion as something positive, rather than something introverts have to work to overcome.

    • Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface January 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      I felt the same way. I also liked the way the author presented the change in values over time, pointing out that introvert qualities were more highly valued in the context of the past.

  2. Anna Jacobson December 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I can so very well agree since I’m very much an introvert myself – – at least in most areas and aspects of life. I can’t deny a certain gratitude toward this author for portraying the other side so well and showing that no one atribute is the ultimate one to be achieved. There is tremendous beauty within diversity….once we learn to not only accept it, but also to embrace it and disvover its inherent beauty. Though I have no direct “New Year’s Resolutions” one of my ambitions for this new year to come (and hopefully many more to come) is that I want to be able to make the absolute most of who I am and was created to be, while allowing others around me to do the same…by giving them an open ear and an understanding heart instead of a sceptical or judgmental spirit, by reaching out and helping, according to need and not status or “deservability”, and by willingly and even deliberately searching for the beautiful DIFFERENCES (yes differences, and not likenesses) between me and all those around me. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned have come not from things I and others have shared in common or agreed on (though this as well) but oftentimes it lies in the very things we differ in.

    • Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface January 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

      Thank you for your lovely comment. What a fine resolution that is.

      • Anna Jacobson January 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

        And thank you for the gentle but poignant reminder of what truly is important….it was not only a beautiful, but also much needed inspiration and encouragement

  3. Deborah the Closet Monster December 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    For a long time, I didn’t know what an “introvert” was, just that I needed quiet time to recharge, and that sometimes I needed more time than others.

    When I visited my sister in England, I excused myself after a busy day with lots of strangers. She said with great concern that she feared I had Social Affective Disorder, which made me quite grumpy. I replied, similar to you, that there are many types of people in the world and that one is not “bad” simply because it is “different than you.”

    I don’t think my sister would say something like this now, but in a way, I’m glad she did. It was that comment that finally spurred me to understand that what I was was OK, and also to look for an understanding of what that was.

    Some of my trouble the last several months has been from believing that I could escape my introversion online–that’s to say, that I could be online engaged in conversation for hours on end and not feel wiped out. The last month or so, it’s caught up to me, leaving me comfortable stepping away and for hours afterward. The time to recharge is important, it seems, offline and on!

    • Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface January 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      My husband often comments on how differently I process life, and how I recharge. I am fortunate that he understands me very well.

  4. Rayme Wells @ A Clean Surface January 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    A few days after writing this post, a man with a stutter very similar to the one portrayed in The King’s Speech came into my place of work. I was filled with compassion for him as he struggled through the short sentences he attempted.

  5. ladyofthecakes January 6, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    Thanks for this post it really resonated with me. I’m also a quiet person, and although I greatly enjoy the company of individuals, and, of course, my friends, I’m often uncomfortable in groups, even if I happen like everyone in that group. And I’m neither a leader nor a follower. I just like to do my own thing, lol.

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