It’s Okay to Be Quiet

two matching butterflies on small flowers next to each other, facing each other

In a week I’ll be at the Romance Writers of America’s national conference. I was feeling nervous about it at work yesterday, and I told my coworker that I imagined arriving, and how I’d be surrounded by confident people talking assertively, for hours. My coworker pointed out that other people might like talking to someone more quiet. I’d been assuming that, because I’m not assertive, I was somehow less than.

It’s not true, and I’ve learned this lesson before!

Example #1: One time, my friend Loren and I took our dinner out behind our apartment building to eat on a hillside overlooking the park. Two guys were playing baseball, and after a while they came over to talk to us. One of them did all the talking, was loud, and made jokes, while the other one didn’t say a word. And I liked the quiet guy better!

Example #2: One time when I was at the Campbell Folk School, an Australian blacksmith was on campus the same week. I wanted to talk to him but was too scared to sit near him at meals. I assumed he would not want to talk to me; plus another woman who was boisterous was always hanging around him. On Friday night after the bonfire, when I got up to leave, he got up, too, and said he’d walk back to the dorms with me. On the walk, we totally hit it off! Why had I assumed he would not be interested in talking to me? We sat together at Saturday breakfast, the final meal of the week.

I don’t need to have the most conversations or impress everyone I talk to. All I have to do at the conference is be authentic and open to conversations happening, and I’ll find people to connect with.

2 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Be Quiet

  1. Angie McMann

    Wow, Emily. This hit home for me. I’ve been worried about this. When I get into a crowd, I’d rather be in the shadowy corner listening instead of talking. The idea of this conference brings out the dreaded “imposter syndrome” as if I’m going to arrive and everyone will suddenly point to me and yell, “you don’t belong here!” My rational side knows this isn’t true but I can’t help but think it. I hope to meet you there.

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