The Quiet Sibling: Lessons I Learned in an Outgoing Family


Here’s my family in a nutshell: loud, energetic, entertaining, and very outgoing. I love them to bits! But it’s not easy being the only quiet sibling in a family that keeps talking. Here are the wisdom nuggets I have collected…

It’s okay to stand out. During my teen years I was uniquely quiet. I wouldn’t even talk to my teachers sometimes! I always felt pressured to socialize more, so I wouldn’t be so quiet. I also felt guilty because of my quietness, and wanted to be louder and more entertaining, like my siblings. My older sister and brother always encouraged me to speak more, so I could have more friends. Little did I know back at the time that trying to “blend in” with others would diminish the very thing that set me apart: my quiet confidence. So, I learned it first from home, with my own family: get used to being a little different from others. But in a good way, because it’s better to be noticeable than to be forgotten.

When the quiet speaks, the world listens. My siblings know I don’t waste words when I speak. Are you familiar with that stereotypical quiet character in movies or sitcoms who only speaks when they have something wise and timeless to say? Well, that’s me at times. When someone says something relevant every time they open their mouths, people are bound to listen, because chances are, that quiet person may not repeat themselves. I’ve noticed that whenever I need to say something in the midst of raging voices, the table gets silent while I serve up my food for thought.

I became numb to teasing. I was raised by a pack of comedians who typically express affection through harmless joking and teasing. It’s one of their many love languages. Although being teased by my older siblings for my quietness used to hurt me, this helped me to gird myself to handle the real world picking on me because of my quiet nature. This was another lesson I learned from family: people are going to tease you for being different. Now when people make fun of me for being quiet, or even when they cast strange glances at me, I just let it roll off. Sometimes I even laugh.

I learned to speak up!! Anyone who is soft-spoken like me is probably used to their voice being drowned out by louder folks. That was me growing up and, admittedly, sometimes it still happens today. At home, I would get frustrated when I finally had the nerve to speak my mind just to be talked over because my voice was too low. This really taught me how to be more assertive with my speaking and over the years—my mom can witness to this—my voice has gotten stronger, both physically and metaphorically. Sometimes I would actually shout, clap my hands, or bang on a table just to be heard. This might make me sound crazy but trust me, I’m not. Everyone gets passionate!

Sometimes a family—or a group of any kind—needs that one quiet and stable person to keep things balanced. My older brother says this about me. He believes I keep our family centered because I exude a calming energy. My mother once called me the flower in the middle of a field of wild plants. We feed off energy in our home. When one of us is elated, everyone else feels the same way. When someone is upset, the mood dampens quickly. I believe that every group needs that one person—at least one—whom they can look to for peace and stability. When tempers flare, that one quiet person can help extinguish the situation.

I found strength and peace in being myself. It took a long time for my family to look at my quietness as a strength. It probably took me even longer to appreciate my character. Because of my quietness, I always thought something was wrong with me. But during my venture in college, I discovered what was “wrong” was actually right all along; I just had a hard time understanding it. Now I can say that I wear my quiet power proudly.