Frankly Put: Learning to Live Voiceless

Jumping off the last post, the last blog post… Meeting new people! That’s it, that is my introduction to the topic at hand.

It’s rare these days to meet “blank slates” — people who have no idea who we are or we have no idea who they are and there is some malleable dynamic to meeting these people, which I quite enjoy. If it is a question I have found myself answering as much as I have thrown my name in introduction, it would have to be “Why are you so quiet?” At this point in my life, it has become less of a question out of “bullying” more a question out of curiosity.

My answer may vary here and there with the tone of the person asking but the fundamental principle pretty much remains the same, that is, I don’t particularly see the point of talking. Some have, in my days, taken it as me being rude or arrogant and I can’t blame them, understanding that more times than not, I am curt and indifferent when they try to pry me open. Although, for the most part I do not mean any disrespect, I must admit a very small percent of the time the tone is warranted. Some take it as a challenge to make me loud and talkative (and fail). Some are more intrigued than anything and those tend to be the people I vibe with. Some simply nod and continue doing their thing.

A common-thought diagnosis is that it is introversion. That because I am introvert, I am shy and can’t speak to new people. Funnily enough, I am more extroverted than I am introverted (being an ambivert), which may come as a surprise to people but yes, I am silent and extroverted. We exist. Just as there are loud introverts and hornless unicorns. Although, understanding the terminologies would be key, if anything on it. I look at it as how we recharge. If an extrovert charges from social interaction and an introvert charges from solitude, an ambivert is in a constant state of charging-discharging like a faulty battery. I digress.

A piece of me after years and years of self reflection thinks, maybe silence stems from some trauma or childhood thing. Which it could, if you are a middle child you may relate and understand the whole dynamic of growth we do. Not to say there is a strict template to you but it seems to be a common trend down the line. Looking back, I have fostered this “don’t speak unless spoken to” principle that may have stemmed from a negative space but could it be that I molded this ideology that is a shrinking, degrading one to be something positive in my life? Did I stew in being small for so long that I absorbed enough silence to expand and get big? Did it make me a little more secure in my life not being heard? Did it make me comfortable in voicelessness? Did it mean I no longer have a voice?

I have often looked back to my life and asked myself, “When? When did I decide to settle in the thought that, ‘Yep, I don’t see the need to talk’?” Now don’t get me wrong, I can talk and talk probably as much as the normal or what society would stereotype an “extrovert” but I also swing across the spectrum in that I can spend a day muttering the bare minimum. In fact, those days are more than the former. I am in the sense of it, one of those humans that prefers peace in the morning rather than waking up to blaring energy but more like throughout the day, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well with majority of the people in my life who are the contrary. Is it a pain? Yes. Does it make it hard to live with others? Sometimes. Do I hate it? No.

In as much as the isolation of silence is comforting and at times addicting, I’ve had to ascribe to the fact that we are social creatures and I need to interact with people and sometimes, those people are loud. There are, of course, steps that I had to take with myself to deal with this. For example with the whole morning thing, being up a little earlier sometimes does help, gets you that time alone in silence for sometime before you have to step out into the noise that is the world. Sometimes, sleeping late does help too because late at night people are tired and don’t have the energy to be loud so that is a plus on days I wish for silence. With the changing times, that whole 2–4am window has been taken by people who slipped and now have bad sleep schedules with the whole global pandemic thing.

Learning to match energies is another major thing. Self work opened my eyes to the fact that I can be loud, very much so when I want to be but I really just choose not to be. To finally find ways of dealing with life without being loud is all the more reassuring in that I do not need to speak at all. Anyway, this may seem manipulative but you kind of have to be in touch with yourself to bring the room to compromise. There has always been this point of thought, that not being a high energy person drains the energy of the group… which is, in my experience not entirely true. This is where that self awareness kicks in. If you are aware of the your own energy and limits, you can probably turn up the dial to 9 and then find compromise as you bring them slightly lower to a point where you are both not straining to vibe… Only if they are worth the effort though.

Another thing is probably struggling to hold on to ties. To be comfortable in silence may not always mean to be comfortable alone but if the possibility is there, why not take it in the stride of your struggle for self love. Though, not speaking does this thing where it paints your relationships black and white, they are either deep and intimate or just surface and superficial. What it does on one hand is bringing out that pair of New Years’ shears a lot easier for those who need to prune a little but on the other side it makes broken friendships one of the heaviest things to carry forward. You might cut off someone you knew from kindergarten with the quickness but losing that someone you met on day one of uni is like a gaping hole in the chest. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?

On that friendship thing tho… Enjoyment. Not everyone likes people who “are quiet all the time" or don’t have loud energies especially when it comes to enjoyment and it is understandable. When going out everyone has to match the high of the night, for the most efficient high. Otherwise, you seem like a middle aged person who slows everyone down when you are not yelling and shouting with the others. In such cases, sometimes you could match their energy and make noise knowing that a couple days later it is just silence to recharge the number of words you speak. Not everyone in those settings understands and it is just a sad thing when you suddenly go silent but you have to balance your vocal activities like cheques (both of which we learn on the job and are not taught when younger, *shakes head*)

Though, if you are silent kid, I get it. I may joke about being a recovering silent kid but I don’t see it the least bit negative. In fact, as the saying goes, still waters run deep, honour the worth of every single word you say and let their weight sink your message in minds just as deep as the long way around. You don’t have to be loud to have your voice heard, voiceless doesn’t mean thoughtless, to put it frankly.

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Frankhie Muthumbi

Frankhie Muthumbi

Perfectly Imperfect || Human, Alexithymiac Poet, Writer, Musician