highly sensitiveKat Speaksselective mutism

Re-defining ‘Quiet’ – exploring the depth and abilities of the quiet ones

When I was young I developed a severe dislike for the word ‘quiet’. To me, this word felt hugely suffocating; needlessly smothering me over and over again each time it was spoken.


For every person who has ever described me in this way (and there have been many), I’m not even sure anyone realised how insulting and damaging it felt. Each time, it was as if my true self was being pushed further and further away. The word haunted me; as if it was daring any other aspect of myself to show up, pillow at the ready.

I sometimes wonder where I developed such a damaging definition of ‘quiet’ … I guess it comes down to the context in which it was used, and the depth by which I identified with it.

I grew up believing that I was quiet, and quiet was me.  I though quiet was a bad thing – something I had to change, or grow out of.

Peering into that word, after years of resistance, I am finally allowing myself to find out what it really means.


QuietMaking or characterized by little or no noise


To the casual observer a quiet person is just that – but look inside and you will find a rich and interesting world. Since allowing the word to have a place in my life, ‘Quiet’ has opened up to encompass a colourful tapestry of imagination, awareness, empathy and depth.

I never needed to get rid of the word ‘quiet’, but I needed to find a way to change my reaction to it. I needed a new definition – a definition with depth, that identified the traits of the person I was, instead of building walls around myself and shutting myself down.

Cutting inside of the ‘Quiet’ shell, it is quickly apparent that the quiet person is, in fact, anything but …

  • Imaginative – I have always been aware of the myriad of thoughts spiralling inside of my head. Sometimes it can drive me crazy, but it can be an amazing thing too. Never a dull moment, I have always loved to play by myself and often found myself lost inside of my thoughts, imaginary worlds building themselves up and falling back down again as my imagination wanders. A quiet person is never bored – there is always such a lot happening inside of their head.
  • Sensitive – Being intensely aware of the way I and my body feel has often been difficult. Over the years I have struggled with my reactions to food, energy, emotions and other people, and I haven’t always been a fan of the word ‘sensitive’ either … but at the same time, my sensitivity reminds me that I am alive. I can usually pick up on subtleties around me that other people miss, and I can read people extremely well. Intuition has gently guided my life in a way that can only be appreciated with hindsight. I fought it for a long time, but today I am profoundly grateful for my sensitivity.
  • Considerate – I think a lot – and not only about myself. I think about other people, and consider them in the decisions I make in my life. My son presented a perfect example of this when, for his sixth birthday, he chose who to invite to his birthday party by the way they interacted with each other. As a result, we had an overnight party with not one bad word. Everything ran like a dream because of my son’s thoughtful consideration.
  • Observant – I often wish that I was brave enough to just dive in and give new things a go, but usually I have to acquaint myself with a new situation first. I watch others, I learn from them, and I use those observations when I feel ready to try something myself. I am also observant in the way that I will notice if someone is feeling a little ‘off’ or if something has bothered another person in some way. This is where my sensitivity can also come into play, as I am then able to judge the best way to handle the situation.
  • Capable – I was often too scared, or unable to ask for help as a child, and so I became very good at figuring things out, and doing things, for myself.
  • Creative – I used to cringe every time I heard the phrase, “It’s always the quiet ones!” but now I recognise the depth and emotion that can be captured creatively, and I see it as a huge compliment. The ability to go within, and create something amazing that draws out an emotional reaction from others is something that quiet people do incredibly well.
  • Passionate – When I am interested in something, I am really interested in it. I will research it, form opinions and love to talk and share about it. My interest gives my life purpose and meaning. I am passionate about my interests, and I love being able to share that passion with the world.

Quiet is no longer a word that I avoid at all costs … instead, it has multi-layered meanings and is something that I choose to embrace and explore.

I love that, no matter how deep I go, there is always more to discover about myself, my life and what I am capable of. I recognise that the aspects of myself that I once hid away are the talents I am beginning to enjoy.

If you have had a similar relationship with your quiet self in your past or present, I hope this article can help you to embrace more of who you are. I believe that I am only beginning to scratch the surface of this, and am hungry to discover more! If you feel moved to, please share your quiet qualities in the comments below …