I've had to fight my whole life to be heard.
I am an introvert. But this doesn't mean I'm quiet.
It might seem like I'm quiet when I'm with a group of people. But I'm listening. I wait before jumping into the middle of a conversation. Like in French class. The class is lively and everyone has an opinion, whether it's on politics, the latest movie, and of course anything French. Because there are so many people wanting to express themselves, it's more comfortable for me to speak up after everyone has had their turn. If I try to join in, my voice gets drowned out because I'm soft-spoken. I've learned if I want to be heard in French class, je dois être patiente (I must be patient).
I am an introvert. This doesn't mean I'm aloof.
After graduating high school, I applied to the University of Kentucky Medical Technology program. This required an interview. The night before the interview, I rode the bus from Louisville to Lexington and slept on the floor of a friend's dormitory room. The following morning, I met with three professors—two of them made me feel at ease and another one terrified me. I had no clue how the interviews went. There was no feedback. But then several weeks later, good news arrived. I was accepted into the MT program. Afterward, I had access to the results of my interviews. On one, there was a note which described me as being aloof. Really? ALOOF! So far from the truth. The professor interpreted my reserved nature as haughtiness.
I am an introvert. This doesn't mean I am shy.
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, believes Western culture misunderstands introverted people. Introverts are conceived as shy, but that's because they may not be comfortable expressing themselves verbally. Cain says introverts, "often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation."
That quote rings true. I found it excruciatingly difficult to ask questions or to speak up in high school. Luckily, I had the opportunity to take a creative writing class as an elective. As a teenager, writing gave me the chance to express myself more freely.
And it still does. Though I worked as a medical technologist for over twenty years and made a nice living, it was never as fulfilling as writing.
Writing allows me to be creative. It gives me the opportunity to entertain and educate others. It empowers me. It gives me voice. Writing helps me fight to be heard.