For as long as I can remember, I have always been "the quiet girl."
My mom relishes telling people at parties all about how, as a child, I would constantly cling to her leg as she socialized with other adults, and I hardly ever tried to play with friends my own age.
While I've since learned to detach myself from my mother's leg and explore the world alone, I still find myself grappling with the idea of being a quiet overthinker in a society full of fast talkers and loud opinions.
Here are 10 struggles every quiet overthinker has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
1. People always think you're mad at them.
There's something about the idea of silence that seems to make people so ridiculously uncomfortable.
People have a tendency to read my silence as anger, and they assume that anger is directed at them.
Girl, I'm just minding my own business, and to be honest, I'm probably thinking about tacos.
2. Or, people think you're upset about something.
I "jokingly" tell people I have "resting sad face," but like, it's not even a joke.
It's nice to know people care about you and want to make sure you're OK, but jeez, like I said, I'm probably thinking about tacos! This is just how my face looks, people. Deal with it.
3. You defend yourself and your behavior way more than you'd care to.
I find myself constantly apologizing for what are basically attributes of my natural personality.
Last time I checked, I'm not hurting anyone by being a generally quiet person, so why do I need to defend myself to you?
4. You create problems that don't actually exist.
OK, sometimes I hurt people by being this way. But, I promise it's never intentional!
Being an overthinker means you think your way into conflict. It's like you're a magician, but only a really shitty one who can whip up a problem out of thin air.
5. Overthinking leads to mental exhaustion, which then leads to physical exhaustion.
You're constantly tired AF, and the bags under your eyes may as well be designer.
After a particularly stressful day of thinking yourself into another dimension, there's nothing more you want to do than shut out the world and pass out on the couch.
6. You've killed your own appetite by thinking too much.
Fact: I once ate 22 slices of pizza in a pizza-eating competition at day camp (I wholeheartedly DO NOT recommend this; also, I somehow did not win that competition).
Another fact: I've gone nearly an entire day without food simply because I was thinking so much that my stomach just couldn't handle ingesting anything.
All overthinkers are especially familiar with this struggle when going out for a meal with people who make them nervous, or people who are just plain difficult to talk to. While you get inside your own head, nothing goes inside your belly.
7. You're terrible at first impressions.
Unfortunately, the quiet overthinker often has to grow on a person before they can get along amicably.
Our reticent demeanors turn people off at first, and we find ourselves hoping (more like praying) for a second chance to make a good impression.
8. You find it difficult to socialize in a loud or crowded environment.
As a quiet girl, projecting your voice is simply not your strong suit.
For me, when I'm out at a bar, I usually have to scream directly into the other person's ear for them to hear me, and then I worry (re: OVERTHINK) about them smelling my bad breath when our faces are so close together.
I'd so much rather sit back and people-watch than try to scream to make myself heard.
9. People always think you're silently judging them.
OK, I will admit, this is sometimes true.
But, for the most part, it's really not the case at all.
The quiet overthinker loves nothing more than to people-watch, but we're almost never thinking anything bad about those we stare at. We just like the idea of getting lost in someone else's world sometimes rather than trying to navigate our own.
10. Working in groups can be super difficult.
My heart skips a beat a little every time I have to attend a meeting with people.
It's not that I don't want to converse with people and share ideas. I love what can come out of creative collaborations.
But, the process of getting there can be cringeworthy for us overthinkers. We're always worried about sounding stupid, and we usually think so much about the worst-case scenario of any situation that we force ourselves into silence.
11. You're a totally different person online/over text.
In person, we usually find ourselves associating with people who are either louder than us, or at least talk more than we do. So, we just let those people do their thang, and we sit back, listen and absorb.
But, behind a keyboard, a quiet overthinker can feel like they finally have the chance to clearly express themselves and articulate their thoughts.