An introvert advises others to speak up

Let’s play a word association game.

I’m not kidding. Trust me, this has a purpose.

Who do you think of when you hear the term, “life of the party?”

You know the person. They have a dynamic personality and a voice that carries. Everyone knows them and most people like them. They’re easily seen and easily heard.

I’m not one of those people.

Like a lot of people, I’m an introvert. I’m guarded and hard to describe beyond physical aspects. Most people can’t even remember my name. Above all, my voice is extremely soft. Many people have to ask me to repeat what I’ve said a few times.

For a few years, I was OK with being quiet. Even when I was more comfortable in my own skin, I was shy, especially around adults and people I didn’t know. I wasn’t the first to go out of her comfort zone to talk to someone new. My voice wasn’t heard oftentimes, especially over the shouts of other adolescents trying to be noticed. I’ve always been quiet, and, for the most part, I was OK with that.

However, as I got older, I had many thoughts and ideas that I wanted to share with the world. I started writing for church, school and anywhere else it’d reach people. “You’re smart and insightful,” they would say. “You should express yourself more often.”

While I’m grateful for the votes of confidence, people really seemed to understand how hard that is for me.

A few weeks ago, I was in my physics class, working on a projectile motion lab. In a rush to finish, my other partners hadn’t read the instructions correctly. After four trials, I read over a part of it again, then said, “I think we’re supposed to do another trial.”

It was a loud classroom, they were scrambling to get calculations done, and, as I’ve said before, my voice doesn’t carry. So, I repeated myself about 5 more times.

When they finally heard me, they didn’t exactly agree. “No, it says to do it four times.”

“Four more times,” I corrected. “After the first trial.”

This became a point of discussion until they decided to move on anyway.

Minutes later, when our calculations called for a fifth value, someone finally said, “Oh, you were right.” They quickly performed the fifth trial.

Maybe it’s a silly thing to be angry about, but I was steamed about it for the rest of the day. After a lifetime of repeating suggestions and still being unheard, I thought I had every right to be angry. And maybe I did.

But my anger wasn’t at my lab partners or even at every other person in my life who’s chosen the louder voice over mine. My anger was at myself.

I realized that I’d stopped believing that my voice mattered. And that made me angry.

I’m a writer. I’m precise with my words, and I try not to say anything if I don’t mean it. Above all, I never say anything unnecessary.

If I saw those qualities in anyone else, of course I’d think that their voice matters.

So why can’t I think the same of myself?

While I hope that some of the readers who have an easier time making themselves heard are more educated after this, this isn’t really for those people.

This is for the people like me. There are those of you out there that can relate to this. Shyness and quietness are underappreciated and so are some of you. There are so many of you out there who have so much to share but don’t believe what you have to say is worthwhile.

This is for you because people didn’t say this to me growing up, and maybe they haven’t said it to you, either. They don’t know that they need to say it.

Let me tell you something I should’ve believed a long time ago: Your voice matters. No matter what happens, please use it.

Jillian Ramos is a senior at Westside Christian High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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