I've exchanged who I am
For social acceptance, assimilation into social scripture.
In my youth, solitude was a place of safety.
Introversion was self-preservation.
My head, sanctuary for the lonely and fanciful dreamer.
Now as an adult
It has become a handicap.
“He’s so quiet”
“Are you always this quiet?”
Wash, rinse, repeat.
This altar I’ve created
To worship at the feet of silence
Has taken its toll.
Labels are flung, hard.
Sticking to me
Like cooked spaghetti to a wall.
Label by label, brick by brick
Sealing me off from social acceptance
Into a Cask of Amontillado of introversion.
Perceptions, a cruel dungeon master.
As I look to my left, as I look to my right.
I see the truth. I’m not the only one.
[You are not the only one.]
My sisters and brothers in arms, the labels on their chains read:
“You need to get of your shell.”
“You need to speak up.”
“She’s stuck up, that’s why she doesn’t talk”
“We can do whatever we want to, he won’t care or say anything.”
It gurlges inside my belly, deep down, to the left.
My eyes dilate, muscles and sinews and clothes rip as the anger rises.
WE SHALL BE HEARD!
Then the next person joins in the chant
Then the next
Chain after chain starts to break
I throw my shirt down and roar from my 4 year old self.
Before the wounds, before my essential self hid out of fear.
Walls crumble, the very earth quakes as we link eyes and nod
We are not introverted.
We are not extroverted.
We who know when to speak and when to shut the hell up.
We who are trustworthy because people know it won’t go further.
We who are the mavens, whose deep cries out to deep.
We who hold the climate of a party in the palms of our hands.
We who make the extroverted and insecure tremble at our very glance.
We who will not apologize because our quietness makes you uncomfortable.
We who are in tune to our emotions like a bass player is in tune to the drum.
Stand up madam! Stand up sir!
Stand up in the secret garden of your wounds.
Stand up with fearlessness, of what shall we be afraid?
If we speak our minds, what will they do but draw near and listen.
If we take a leap of faith, what will they do but leap alongside out of
You call me shy to marginalize, to categorize what you can’t process?
We who have such control over mouth and anger so you, labeler
Can go about your way with nose unbroken, both legs fully functional.
We do not have to subscribe to social conforms.
You could not fathom the worlds we’ve created within our minds.
We don’t have to follow your social prescription.
We don’t have to be anything.
But our beautiful, creative, magnanimous selves.
Magnificence recognizes magnificence
And we, the quiet, are all looking kinda familiar
To each other.
[There is nothing wrong with being quiet. It is determinate of the environment you are in. You would act different at a business meeting than you would Thanksgiving at your Mom's house. But somehow, being quiet or shy is considered...bad. And I for one am not going to stand for that crap anymore. Forever and Amen.]
Written by: Jermaine Jay Lane
Photo by: Christopher Sessums via Flickr and a Creative Commons License