I have something to admit, and I think it might surprise you: Apparently, I have a bit of an attitude problem.
Go ahead and take all the time you need to recover from the shock.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting with my besties, watching horror movies on Netflix that were rated beneath two stars. And somehow, we ended up on the same topic.
“Everybody always think you’re so nice and sweet,” my friend began, “And then when I tell them you’re crazy and loud and opinionated, nobody believes me. They say, ‘Oh, how could say such mean things about sweet little Anna?’” She sighed. “They just don’t know.”
It’s true: I have been told for as long as I can remember that I come off as gentle and sweet. And from there on, it’s just a litany of surprises for the poor victim of my friendship.
“Anna, you cuss?”
“I had no idea you were so loud.”
“You cuss and you cuss loudly.”
“Woah. I’d never guessed you’d say that.”
“You’re…you…you use sarcasm a lot.”
This, by the way, is the bane of my existence. I spent my childhood worrying about how fake I was. I felt like I was hiding. “Quit acting shy, Anna,” My mother would say as I cowered behind her when a stranger tried to talk to me. “I don’t know why she’s acting like this. She’s really not like this.”
For someone that was supposedly not-shy, I acted that way a lot. My friends would roll their eyes at me and say to other people, “Just wait ‘til you get to know her. She’s actually a bitch.”
I spent my life chasing two identities. I was the quietest person in the room, and the loudest, all at once. My seventh grade English teacher caught on to my act. “I was talking to another teacher,” he said to the class once, “that was talking about how shy Anna was.” He looked at me directly. “I said, ‘That’s not the Anna I know.’”
I’ve had this discussion so many times, with so many friends and educators. I have spent so much time vowing to be “be myself” in rooms full of new people. But here’s the thing:
I am the kind of person who is quiet when you first meet me. I don’t particularly like to draw attention to myself. In a class where I’m not comfortable with the professor yet, I have a miniature heart attack when they call on me. I’m a little bit shy.
I take a while to warm up to new people, but that doesn’t mean I actually have an inside voice. And honestly, I think that’s the truth about lots of people that are a little shy. In real life, there are no flat characters. In other words, if someone’s quiet, don’t just assume they’re passive or attitude-free. Shyness does not negate sass. Next time you meet a so-called quiet person, don’t make assumptions.
People are full of surprises. For some of us, that surprise is bitchiness.
But what about you? Are you shy? Do you come off as nicer than you actually are? Let me know in the comments down below. If you convert oxygen to carbon dioxide, like this article and follow my lovely blog. Unless you’re a plant. Then I can’t help you. Cheers or whatever.