Quiet Voice, Loud Mind

“Why do you never talk?”

“You’re always so quiet, are you always like this?”

These questions get thrown at me as I answer with a simple shrug and stay in the background of the conversation. The day carries on and this is the usual pattern. I stay quiet during class or table discussions and never draw attention to myself. Even within a small crowd, I don’t get the courage to speak, it takes enough just to introduce myself. The courage never does come and the nerves take over and they lock the idea away.

I had a group project that was to be presented to the class. As it got closer and closer to my group’s turn, I got even more nervous. I was scared that I would do something stupid and embarrass myself in front of the whole class. The presentation starts and I feel like I have lost all the words that I had prepared to say. Most of the speaking was done by my group members, except for one little slide that I spoke for. Most of the time my back was turned to the class. Whenever I turned to look at the eyes staring up at me, I would start to stutter. I walked back to my seat once we were done, relieved that I was able to make it through.

A mock debate was taking up two class periods. As everyone took their seats in the circle of desks, I tried rehearsing in my head what I was going to say. Everyone had their names labeled on the desk and the debate began. People discussed each of their opinions, once one person talked another person raised their hand. I listened to each point trying to figure how I would fit into the conversation. After each new argument, I would be too scared to add my own opinion. Would it be the right moment? I would wonder to myself. By the time I finally go through my entire thought process, someone else was picked to speak. Eventually the class period was over and we were moving on to the next class. My opportunity to maybe speak up a bit more had passed.

“You’re so loud.”

“I can’t help it.” I answer back

“You're probably making up for all the time you don’t talk during school .”

Once I get home, I become a new me. I am louder and can’t seem to stop talking. It’s as if I’m making up for not talking through the day. It’s the only place where I’m fine with the attention focused all on me. When I am at home, I feel more comfortable and feel as though I can speak whatever is on my mind. People I am closer to also see this change in the way I talk. The more comfortable I feel around the person, the more I talk to that person. When I am more comfortable, I feel safer to express my inner self. I share my opinions more and speak up more.

The class filled with raised hands as the teacher did yet another class discussion. Everyone is eager to share their opinion, everyone but me. I sit in my seat listening to everything people say about the topic. When someone raises an interesting argument, I suddenly have an idea to oppose or agree. Even with this idea floating around inside my mind, my hand stays down as others raise theirs. It’s as if my shyness holds my hand to the table, stopping me from sharing. As I get more comfortable, this grip slowly releases it’s strength.

“Whatchu guys up to?” I say walking over to my group of friends.

“Nothing much, just talking about Geometry.”

“I know. I can’t believe what we have to do for the last benchmark.” I comment

As the year carries on, I adjust a bit more into this new situation. I can talk to smaller groups more easily. My words flow out my mouth freely as I add more and more to the conversation. The words are no longer trapped in the back of my mind by my mouth. When talking in a class discussion, it still takes a great amount of courage to raise my hand and say what is on my mind. Once my hand is raised though and I get to say what I want to say, I feel as though I have made a little accomplishment. Presenting still makes me nervous with all eyes and attention on me, but once I start I can make it through even with a little eye contact. I feel as though I walk out of my quiet shell a little and show a bit of what I’m thinking.

Talking has always been a problem I have in public. For me nerves, take a big part of my limited speaking. I get nervous of all attention on me and in end don’t talk at all. I might try to be as close to talkative that I am at home, I can never fully be there. My quietness can sometimes cause my opinion to not be heard as loud and clear. My words are sometimes trapped in my mind as my mouth stays shout.

Talking is the way that people can communicate. Communication is the one thing that connects everyone together. With me getting nervous speaking in public, I cannot communicate with others better. Over the years, I have tried to speak and open up faster. Though I try to adjust faster, there is still a time where new situations keep my opinions caged in. Opinion is a big part of who someone is and when they are unable to convey that, you can never truly understand that person.

Comments (4)

Chhievling Seng (Student 2017)
Chhievling Seng

I can relate to your essay, I really enjoyed reading this! I know how it feels sometimes to want to talk and contribute to the discussion or anything that involves talking can be hard. I feel that sometimes too, I really like how your open about how as soon as you get home, a different side of you comes out. That's really interesting to see that everyone have their own different type of comfort zone.

Ali Driggers (Student 2017)
Ali Driggers

Wow Imani. I did not know you were that way about public speaking and classroom speaking. What really grabbed me was that at home, you were quite different. I really think this was a great essay. You should try not to be so worried. Your opinions are just as valuable as anyone else's, and they could teach us something. Even if people disagree with you, it is a great thing to have your voice heard. I really love this essay. I love how much detail you give into this fear. I hope it continues to fade away. This is is a really good essay. Well-written, and I learned new things about you. Really cool.

Chiara Nemati (Student 2017)
Chiara Nemati

I really liked this essay, what grabbed me was the part where you explain how you can barely gather the courage to introduce yourself. I never knew that you were shy! I think that the essay could have used another example of the way you act at home. I enjoyed reading it. Good Job!

Ella Donesky (Student 2017)
Ella Donesky

I loved your essay! It's interesting that you addressed people's perception of your language, and wrote about the other side of it. I definitely learned something new about you.