I envy anyone who is able to open up to acquaintances and sometimes even strangers about their personal lives. When shit goes down in their lives, you’ll hear about it, and there seems to be something really freeing about that. I wouldn’t know as I’m one of those super private people who needs a subpoena to get anything out of me. Well, unless you’re one of about five super-trusted people in my life who get to hear everything. Just ask my partner — he is always shocked when someone describes me as “quiet.” But quiet I am to most people.
I think a lot of us fall under the category of private, reserved, or whatever term people have used to describe our stoicism. Certainly the term “introvert” has taken on a life of its own, though I think of this as something slightly different. The problem is, if you don’t talk about your life, people will assume some pretty off-base things about you. And as a person who doesn’t talk at length about this kind of thing (obvs!), I thought it might be time to see who else is feeling a little misread. Here’s what I’ve found that people will totally get wrong about you when you’re a private person…
Still waters run shallow
You think if you’re quiet and mysterious that folks will think you’re, well, quiet and mysterious. More often than not, I probably just seem like a blank slate one can safely assume is boring as hell. Is it true? Not for most people. But if you’re not sharing much, there’s not much to know. The benefit of the doubt is NOT usually on, “this person probably has a rich internal monologue going on!” (praise hands for fellow INFJs? No? Damn). Quiet people have the potential to have a lot going on in their heads that you just don’t know about. That’s how humans work. It’s just really easy to assume otherwise.
You don’t feel things as deeply
“Oh my gawd, I wish I could just bottle up my feelings and go on with my day like you do,” is an exclamation I’ve heard on more than one occasion. Yep, I wish that, too, but sadly, most of us can’t use repression as an actual coping mechanism and be okay. Private people may not be talking about their lives much, but we’re certainly living it just as much and dealing with the same feelings at the same levels. Someone who is more dramatic or able to easily emote outwardly may seem like they have the monopoly on FEELING ALL THE FEELS, but we’re just emoting them while alone, to our trusted circle, or agonizing in silence. It’s there, I promise, we’re just not projecting it out in the same way.
Your life is awesome
I once heard that shyness is actually a form of self-aggrandizement since it implies that if you’re self-conscious of how you’re perceived, that you assume people actually give a shit about what you do. As a formerly shy person, this is a pretty freeing thought. If people are mostly just worrying about what people are thinking of them, then they’re not thinking about you. Freeing, n’est–ce pas?
For the most part, if you don’t tell someone what’s going on with you, there isn’t anything to assume is going wrong. I know I recently had a dose of this reality when a friend of mine admitted on social media that they aren’t likely to share their struggles online and therefore it only SEEMS like everything is awesome for them. This is something we’re all guilty of, myself very much included. It’s easy to have a friend who is private who seems like everything is hunky-dory because they just aren’t talking about their problems. And it may be because they think nobody actually cares (since everyone’s pretty much just trying to live their own lives). If you’re wanting to pry open a reserved person, let them know that you’re one of the people who really does care.
You’re stuck up
As an insecure person (see point above!), I’m not likely to be called stuck-up by anyone who knows me well. Arrogance has not been a definer by most who know me. Lots of other faults, sure. Just not that one in particular. If you even consider arrogance a fault at all. But when you’re not opening up and sharing your life trials with someone, it can totally feel like they just don’t think you’re worthy of their confidence. I totally get this one. But once they get past whatever keeps them private (insecurity, trust issues, maybe nothing at all?), you’ll probably find that they’re cool as hell.
Are your waters running deep and silent? Show me some solidarity or let me know how I’m totally off-base!