There are a few basic things that most people who spend 30 seconds with me will realize: I’m a talker who is very loud with no awareness to the volume of her voice. Within those 30 seconds, I will probably bring up something deeply personal or inappropriate without realizing most people aren’t accustomed to that. My hands will do some weird motions because I’m a spaz and at some point, I will most likely dance/prance for no particular reason.
Imagine what it’s like to be the people who spend more than 30 seconds with me! LOL!
I start with this, because for too long I’ve apologized for being that person. I employed this false bravado for years to hide the fact I was deeply insecure about the person I was. Every report card included that side note of “talks too much in class” and my senior superlative was loudest in the class. I grew up hearing how loud I was and being told to shut up and eventually I thought it was bad.
I tried to be more aware of what I was saying, how often I was talking and the level I was speaking at. I worked to suppress my need to add input to every conversation and tried to listen more. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a miserable failure.
The problem is I’m not just loud and talkative. I’m passionate to a fault. Why to a fault, you ask? Passion is good! It drives us! For me, it consumes me and I can become blinded to other sides because I’m a control freak and naturally I assume I am right and I know best for every issue. But these opinions, whether right or wrong, added to my insecurities because it’s rare you’ll find a subject where I’m just lukewarm, so I spent a lot of time projecting what I thought into conversations, complete with hand gestures to emphasize my points.
After the aforementioned conversations, I would go home and panic that I had been too much and repeat every detail of what was discussed, convinced no one would ever want to talk to me again. I promised I would be better, only to do the same thing at the next opportunity.
I’m not sure if every talker will admit this, but yes, we do like the sound of our own voice. There is an obvious arrogance that comes with constant babbling, assuming every word is important. Perhaps some people talk because they can’t help it, but I talk because I want to be heard.
Sometimes it’s because I want to be understood. Whether it’s overexplaining a situation to make sure no one gets the wrong idea or trying to describe every detail of my life to give people back story, I just want to connect and have people understand where I’m coming from.
On top of being a talker, I’m (mostly) an extrovert which means I like to talk about things with everyone in great detail. It helps my brain to unload and discuss with different people. Often times I send my best friend five or more lengthy texts in a row outlining a current problem in my life or maybe describing several different situations, depending on the day. I say I’m done discussing a subject but truth be told I’m never done discussing anything.
A few years ago, I was in a Bible study and one of the leaders asked for prayer to have a more gentle spirit, referencing 1 Peter 3. In the passage, Peer discusses where beauty comes from for women. Of course, we know real beauty is on the inside, but in Verse 4, he describes real beauty as “that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Here’s another translation: “Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.”
When I read those words, I immediately realized ‘gentle’ and ‘quiet’ are two words I would never use to describe myself. I spend a lot of time working on my outside appearance, but never thought about the importance of a quiet spirit. At first, I believed having it would be impossible for me. I tried to be quieter and it didn’t work. I didn’t feel closer to God and I didn’t feel like I was being myself.
But then something important occurred to me.
Having a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t necessarily mean someone is soft spoken. God didn’t give me a voice only to change His mind and decide I should be quiet. The gentle and quiet spirit, in my mind, is more like discernment between when you should and should not open your big fat mouth.
For example, I’m great in Bible studies because I will answer every question. The downside is I’m terrible because I don’t know if my dominance is keeping others from talking. Now, I try and really reflect on the question before giving my response and I allow others to fill that time because it’s likely they will have better insight than me. The only time I will immediately speak is when I know what I have to say is right, meaning it adds value to the conversation and is worthwhile and not just words for the sake of words.
This translates well into other areas of my life. Instead of simply talking at my friends, I try to listen better and add when I have something important, but when I don’t, I just want to let them know I hear them and validate their feelings if needed. Instead of saying ‘you shouldn’t feel this way because God loves you,’ I try to get that message across in a more gentle manner, but I also push to let them know I hear their heart and emotions and it’s ok to be there and feel that way. Am I always great at this? No, but I’m learning and trying to be a better friend in all situations.
So sorry to everyone who thought I was going to quiet down. In fact, now that I’ve reached the point, I daresay I will be louder in many ways.
I’m at a point in life where I can view these ‘flaws’ as gifts and I try to use them as such. Instead of being embarrassed that I have no shame, I use it to talk to people I don’t know and try to make them feel welcome. I’m pretty good at parties because of this, tbh. Rather than blurt my opinions wildly, I listen to my opponent and consider and decide how to respond instead of just flying off the handle. Sometimes, the handle is still left in the dust but I choose my battles better.
Being loud, animated, enthusiastic, passionate, excited, etc. makes me who I am and now I love that person because every day is pretty much an adventure. I understand I can be divisive and that’s ok! Part of growing up is realizing not everyone will want to be your friend and it’s not really personal because we all have preferences. I will be too much for certain people but that does not mean I am too much. That is very important to realize
Now I say all of this with an asterisk, of course. You shouldn’t go around being a jerk because that is how God made you. It’s important to look at everything that makes you, you, and figure out what areas need a little fine tuning. It’s not just saying “well I’m loud so people will have to deal with it,” but “yes, I’m loud, how can I use this for God and when do I need to shut my big fat mouth?”
Everything about you exists for a reason and there is value. Don’t let someone make you feel less because they don’t understand. Don’t hold it against them because they don’t get you. As with most things in life, this is a battle that starts in you. If you see your uniqueness as a weakness, other people will make you feel that way. I promise that everything about you, good and bad in your eyes, is absolutely amazing and God gave you these gifts and talents and traits for a very important reason.
Never apologize for being who you are because when you do, you’re basically saying God made a mistake and you’re so sorry the world is now subjected to His carelessness.
Within 30 seconds of meeting me, you will probably realize I’m loud and animated and a bit over the top. You will either find me annoying or enjoy that weird joke I made probably because I suffer from word vomit in social situations. Maybe you will want to be my friend or maybe you will want to avoid me with every ounce of strength you have. Either way, I love you and it’s ok that I’m not the person for you. I know I’m continuing to become the person God desires and that is what matters.