I don't like a lot of noise. I've discovered this recently and decided to accept it: I would much rather be somewhere calm and quiet with seemingly not much going on.
I'd also like to be more of a quiet person. I don't need to be loud to be heard by the people who want to listen to me. As a child I was always 'too shy' and now I berate myself as an adult for being 'too chatty'. I'm informal and I say what I think; I also repeat myself if I don't get the reaction I hoped for. Saying things again incase people didn't hear me the first time, when on reflection they probably did, but chose not to respond. This is a habit I wish I could get out of.
If there has to be loudness I like it to be one thing at a time. A really good song, or the waves crashing onto a stormy beach. Too many noises at once is overwhelming, which is never good for a highly sensitive person like myself.
Delivering workshops or meeting new people at a networking event, I'm sure I come across as confident and extroverted. Socially anxious wouldn't be the first label you'd put on me, but I am undoubtedly an introvert and an easily overwhelmed one at that. For every hour of social butterflying, I need at least two to relax and recover (preferably in low or natural lighting, with an in-depth and thoughtful audiobook!).
The rise of outspoken, powerful women is a fantastic thing. Following centuries of patriarchal society, the women who make change loudly are inspiring. But we don't have to be loud to be successful. Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking unpicks the strengths as well as the we
aknesses of highly sensitive people. Those who found the crowded, shouting jostling of school corridors terrifying. Those who don't make or answer phone-calls, but prefer to wait passively for an email reply. Those who aren't listened to in meetings.
I believe that the reason I'm self-employed is because I need to be quiet. A mixture of introversion and depression meant that I was awful at the full-time jobs I attempted. Or at least, they were awful for me. Overstimulation badly affected my work performance and mental health, because I got so run down by a system that I was completely exhausted by. Not to mention knocking my confidence.
Now I know that I am capable. I am driven, and I will achieve successful things both personally and professionally. But I need a safe and quiet space to do it in. Trying to be 'out there', confident and loud is just exhausting. Volume does not reflect value, and quiet certainly does not mean weak. I'm giving myself permission to stop spending my energy "pushing outwards," and let the people who want to listen, come to me.