I have never been a very talkative person. I don’t know if it has always been a part of my personality or the fact that I did not learn how to talk until I was around three years old. The first few years of your life are one of the most important since those are your formative years. Infants usually start talking around fifteen months. That translates to a little more than a year old. In contrast, I was around three when I started to talk. I had a two-year delay and while it may not seem so much, in terms of your formative years, it’s a huge delay. Plus, as soon as babies are born, they immediately start hearing and taking in sounds. I was unable to hear until I was around two and a half years old. From the minute I got my cochlear implant, I was playing catch up with the rest of my peers.
I can’t really remember much of my childhood so I don’t know how much of a talkative person I was. When I was three years old, my brother was born. He, too, was deaf but since my parents had already learned their mistakes from me, my brother’s deafness was detected a lot earlier on. He got the cochlear implant when he was around a year old. My brother was and still is a very talkative person. He would always ask a million questions and he was naturally a very curious person. Since my brother talked so much, I just let him talk away. He would use up all the air in the room so I would keep quiet. It was easier that way.
I have a very vivid memory of one summer when my family and I traveled to Israel. Our family in Israel lives in Rishon, which is in south Israel. We were traveling with one of my father’s friends and his family to Haifa, which is in northern Israel. My brother talked to my mother the entire car ride while I sat in the very back and played my Gameboy. I did not talk once the entire car ride. When we got to our destination, I made some sort of noise and my brother turned around, startled. He said he had forgotten that I was even there.
My family is extroverted while I am introverted. I was artistic and was good at it while my family lacked any sort of artistic ability whatsoever. I always got the feeling that my parents could never really get me since I was so different from them in many ways. My mom would always ask me to go out and hang out with my friends more on the weekends. It’s not as if I never hung out with my friends after school or on the weekends. However, I didn’t hang out with them every weekend. My mom couldn’t fathom that I was content with just staying at home. In my mind, I already saw my friends five times a week and I had no burning desire to constantly be around them. I needed my alone time to recharge myself. I like being around people but after a while, it gets exhausting. In regards to that, my parents never got and still cannot understand me.
I was eleven years old when my sister was born. She proved to be equally loud as my brother. In most families, the youngest children get more attention than the oldest since they require it. My family was no exception. My brother had been the youngest child in the family for the longest time so I was used to getting less attention than him. I did not particularly mind since I had always been fiercely independent and quiet. I was much more low-key and was not demanding at all. My mother says that when I was around five years old, I would tell her that she could go to Starbucks herself and I could stay at home by myself. In contrast, my brother demanded my mother’s attention at every possible second. I sometimes wondered if the umbilical cord had ever been cut off.
When my sister was born, I was shunted off to the side even more. My sister was even more demanding than my brother. My brother, not used to the fact that he was no longer the youngest, resented my sister for a very long time. In fact, I still don’t think he ever fully forgave my sister for replacing his position as the youngest. My sister and brother battled each other for my mother’s attention. I did nothing of the sort and so, I felt ignored. Just because I enjoy my quiet time, does not mean that I don’t need attention of any sort. I do get lonely a lot (and even more so now that I’m in college). I am not loud and demanding so I get left behind which I think is unfair. I have no doubts that I am loved. I just don’t think that my mom was (and is) ever quite sure of what to make of me. I never told her that I wanted more attention because I knew she had her hands full with raising a newborn baby and making sure my brother got the attention he craved.
I was also very quiet in school. I had a small, tight-knit group of friends who I am still friends with to this day. I barely spoke in class or to my other classmates. My quietness also translated to outside of school. I was an avid basketball player and I played for the high school’s basketball team. In my junior year, my teammates had the idea to have a sleepover for the entire team. We started talking at the sleepover and I came out of my reserved shell. The players were shocked to find out that I actually had a personality (hah!). One of my teammates told me that she had no idea that I was this funny. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to come out of my shell although I do have theories. I am not an outwardly friendly and bubbly person. I abhor small talk of any sort. For people, small talk can lead to more substantial conversations, which leads to friendship. Personally, I suck at small talk and I’d rather avoid it if I can. If I have nothing to say, I keep quiet.
I suck at talking. I suck at communicating my feelings. I was always much better at writing things down than saying them out loud. Sometimes I think I was born a deaf-mute considering how little I talk. For me, talking can be exhausting. I have to form my ideas and what I’m going to say in a short period of time. When I write, I am able to mull over my thoughts and choose the precise words I want use.
I believe there is also another reason why I am so quiet. Without going into too much detail (because this is incredibly personal), I will say that my home life was rocky. My parents have a turbulent marriage and more often than not, I would be stuck in the middle of the crossfires. Some days would be so bad that I would lock myself in my room, only surfacing when I was hungry. As I got older, the fights became worse and worse. The problems started to mount on top of each other until it got to the point where I felt like Atlas, with the burden of the world on my shoulders. I would get home from school or practice and dash immediately for my room. It was better to shut myself away from everyone else and isolate myself. That was my coping mechanism and I do not know if my actions were the wisest but it was how I dealt with it. I retreated inwardly and talked even less.
It’s incredibly hard for me to open up to people. People are unreliable and they always let me down. Plus I knew no one who went through the same situations as I did. There was no one for me to relate to as most of my friends came from much happier households than I came from. Over time, I have opened up to more people. I’ve never told any one single person my entire backstory but I have told it in fragments to different people. I think it’s better this way. Mysteries are no fun once they’re solved.
Reflecting back on my life, I do believe my silence was beneficial in some ways. Silence is a weapon. If you are silent, no one can know what you are truly thinking. The stupidest person in the world could appear to be the wisest if they said nothing. You cannot judge a person’s intelligence until you hear them speak in most cases. When a person did something that affected me negatively, I could see them wait for me to react with anger or hostility. However, very often, I would say nothing. I could see that my silence made them squirm. People are used to outward displays of anger, not the opposite. I would always feel a sense of victory when this occurred since silence can say a lot more than words. Silence can be interpreted in many ways. Are you silent because you’re angry? Sad? Happy? What is it? People talk too much. There’s just too much excess noise. There will maybe be ten percent gold in what they’re saying and the rest of the ninety percent is just filler. When I talk, I have a purpose.
I pride myself for being a very honest person. I restrain myself a lot from speaking my pure, unadulterated thoughts aloud because people do not want to hear the truth, no matter what they claim. Speaking the truth has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years. It’s even cost me friendships. A lot of people will lie to themselves. I try to never do that to myself. If you lie to yourself constantly, you start to believe in the lie. I am reflective and I will analyze my every action. I am not saying that I never lie to myself. However, I am saying that I try to avoid it if possible. I am human and I am susceptible to all human errors and imperfections. I’d just like to think that at least I have the honesty and decency to admit it. I may come off as blunt and harsh with others. That is nothing compared to how blunt and harsh I am to myself. I judge myself incredibly harshly and hold myself to impossible standards. It’s why I am not overly sensitive to other people’s criticisms or feelings. No one can be as hard on me as I am on myself. I am my own best friend and my worst enemy.
I do not talk a lot for a myriad of reasons. Some reasons are because I was born this way, other because of my disability, and the rest were because of external factors in my life. I may not say much but I see a lot. I sit back and observe people. I may not say it out loud but I do cherish every single person in my life (family and friends) a lot. If I talk to you on a regular basis, you probably have some sort of quality that I enjoy or admire. In the end, silence is both good and bad. Silence can say a lot but it’s easy for it to be misinterpreted.
(AN: The title is from a Monty Are I song- a vastly underrated band. If you’re bored and in need of some music, I’d highly recommend you check them out)