“Why are you so quiet?” they question me. It’s a friendly inquiry, an interested question. It scares me.
I pause, assaulted by the realization that my silence is a point of reflection for someone.
I pause, uncertain how to answer without making myself look pathetic and broken.
“Most people like to be listened to rather than talked to.” I shrug cynically, hoping they don’t see I’m not cynical at all.
A moment of thought. “Not me,” they respond philosophically.
“Not me,” they reassure me.
“Not me,” they reproach me.
Words get caught up in my throat. How do you tell someone that you have nothing to say?
How do you tell someone that you doubt they would understand what you want to say?
How do you tell someone you’re afraid they would understand you if you dared to talk?
I shrug dismissively, because it turns out I have nothing to say.
I go home, drowning in all the words I could have said.
“I’m deeply insecure and feel that other people’s words are always more interesting than mine.”
“I’m afraid of being judged.”
“Nobody is interested in what I want to say.”
What better way to get the pity I don’t want or need?
In the dark of night I have an existential crisis over the words I never wanted to say.
Am I afraid, or am I self-contained?
Am I afraid, or do I not need other’s approval?
Am I afraid, or am I holding my pearls close when I venture into the mud?
I’m afraid of the answer.
But in the end, I close my eyes in the silence and fall asleep, at peace.