I’ve been quieter than usual

by Marinka on November 22, 2011

I’ve been quieter than usual on this blog because I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been thinking about how my daughter is going through the high school application process and how I’m worried that it will kill me because she is smart and sensitive and funny and lovely, but she is a thinker. And how bizarre it is to have the phrase “she is a thinker” preceded by a “but”.

And yet, there it is.

I worry that we don’t value thinkers, at least not those who don’t think out loud. That we are, as a society, suspicious of people who are not extroverts. Teachers want to see raised hands as proof of understanding. We want engagement and participation, we don’t embrace the people who are quiet.

Why are they quiet? Are they thinking? About WHAT? What proof do we have that they are focused on the subject matter at hand? They could be thinking about anything for all we know!

We want to see results, we take comfort in self-promotion. We know those things. They are familiar.

What do we make of someone who skips the beat, who waits before answering who doesn’t press the Jeopardy buzzer first to stun not only with the right answer but with the speed at which she got it.

Is there room for people like this?

Will the admissions people who interview my daughter recognize the qualities in her that I admire or will they penalize her for thinking?

When my daughter was interviewed in a group setting she told me that the other kid did most of the talking but that it was ok because the other kid had interesting things to say.

It’s one of the many things that I love about my daughter. The fact that she is interested in what others are saying.

And that she takes time to think about it.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Issa
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November 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Somehow I think she will be just fine.

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the mama bird diaries
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

we could all take a lesson from your daughter in the art of listening.

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Phoenix Rising
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Amen.

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Anna November 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Well, I think of my daughter as an “observer” but she sounds a bit like yours. She is articulate when she speaks. She is lively and sweet but she doesn’t speak much unless she feels she has something really substantial to say. She is also much more reticent with people she doesn’t know well.

I think an application process for high school sounds very stressful but I bet she will get through just fine. We could use a lot more listeners in this world. The latest studies show that the traits of narcissism have increased dramatically the last 10 years. Someone who listens before they speak is rare and valuable. Best to you both.

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tracy@sellabitmum
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I love this trait. Being a good thinker and listener is truly a gift.

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Neil
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I don’t think that you are that much of an extrovert and you are an impressive person. You find your own way. And she will too.

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Dana
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I want to believe the admissions folks value thinkers, the students who are measured and thoughtful. I want to believe it not just for your daughter, but for mine too.

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Cherie Beyond November 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Wow. This hits very close to home. I’ve failed job interviews repeatedly because I was too “reserved.” I’ve been reprimanded in reviews for not participating in meetings. I’ve been described by friends as “the quiet one” because I don’t interrupt in social conversations. In all of these circumstances, all I thought I was doing was listening politely and thinking.

Don’t worry. It’s not all doom and gloom. I am quite happily, successfully employed, and have a lovely life. She will to.

As an added bonus, she will rarely need to apologize for saying something stupid off-the-cuff.

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Ilana
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I’m a thinker. I’m never the loudest person in a room and I’m not quick on my feet. Terrible for business, great for blogging.

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Roshni November 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Your daughter seems to be a listener…in that case, I think everyone will love her, coz people just want someone who will listen… ask me how I know!!

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Alexandra
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm

All the marks of what it takes to be a great writer….

I’ve got a feeling about this girl.

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Hannah Pratt November 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

In this day and age of information intelligence is often subjective. Communication between two people or even a group of people is now instant so the ability to understand context before speaking is most valuable. I don’t always think before I speak but I try to think before I type.

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Ann
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I married a thinker. Thinking goes hand in hand with curiosity, which is another enviable trait.

Each school will have pros and cons, but her schoolwork and lovely demeanor will help her find those teacher/mentors that are truly special.

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Loukia November 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I don’t think there are enough thinkers like that in the world. My son is also a thinker. He would rather sit back at a party, think, talk to me about life, what other people are doing, etc., rather than play. He’s come out of his shell now in grade one, but he’s still a thinker, a reader, hesistant, sometimes unsure, because he doesn’t want to be wrong. He’s sensitive, too. And I love these qualities about him, but they scare me, too. Honestly, I thought taking care of babies was hard. Having children in school, (and I can only speak as a mother of a preschooler and a first grader) is HARD. Decisons we have to make, knowing when to step back, how to encourage more, homework, friends, etc. SO MUCH to worry about. Sorry, on and on I go.
Your daughter will do fine, and I think her being a thinker is a great quality. And I still cannot believe this high school process. How stressful. Move to Canada? ;)

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Rosstwinmom November 23, 2011 at 6:44 am

Aww, Momma, you are so sweet. I worry about this too! I have twin boys, and one is a little me who says every thought that comes into his cute little head. The other is just like your daughter, and I adore that about him. I know he’s got a mind of wonder and fabulosity. He’s smart but not about telling the whole world like his brother. It kills me because he is perfect just the way he is but as you said, we live in a world that moves too fast for him. He is not in a hurry, and that’s okay.

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dusty earth mother November 23, 2011 at 8:53 am

I just loved this, Marinka. And I love that your daughter is interested in what other people have to say–what a truly wonderful quality. And that quality will be evident to those who matter. Really.

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Stacy November 23, 2011 at 9:11 am

Oh sweetie, the world will see her intelligence and grace. High school is not the perfect environment for appreciating those traits, it’s true (and the application process less so), but with the loving family and thoughtful attention and support and love you give her, i have NO doubt that she will find her way and be appreciated for her special her-ness. Just like we do you! xoxo

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Mama Kat November 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

I’m just starting this journey with my thinker. She’s in 2nd grade now and already I’m like, “Oh she’s being docked points because she doesn’t shoot her hand in the air? DOES SHE KNOW THE CONTENT!?!”

It bothers me that my thinker gets looked over because she doesn’t scream for attention like the other kids. Will the teachers even remember her or is she just a ‘filler’ in the classroom? And you know what else? I’m sick and tired of my “thinker” being placed strategically in the classroom to separate hyper active, misbehaving boys. Let’s place the quiet sweet girl next to those little assholes! That should tame them a bit. Never mind the fact they bug the fuck out of her.

I apologize. I didn’t realize what a sensitive subject this was until I started commenting…we were talking about you and your daughter?? Is that right? Where were we??

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Lady Jennie November 23, 2011 at 11:34 am

If it doesn’t get valued in high school it will later on. That kind of talent/gift cannot be ignored.

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awesome dude November 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm

People never like other persons who are involved with their own life, look at the different things and form their opinions independently.

It always evokes suspicion and hostility, but it just a price to pay for something better and different that these people have.

We saw documentary about Woody Allen on channel 13, and he says there how much he hated his school in Brooklyn. He is a typical outsider and he is rewarded and punished for that.

But I feel that I hated my school even more the he hated his.

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Heather
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I’ve always been an introvert and a thinker myself, and more than once turned in a paper at school to be told, “That was a wonderful essay! Why don’t you talk more?” As if speaking equates to understanding the material and being able to write an intelligent sentence.

Anyway, I suspect and hope that the interviewers at the high schools your daughter is applying to are aware that you don’t have to be an extrovert to be an intelligent, valued member of the classroom.

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MommyTime
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm

As the “quiet one” in school settings all my life, and relatively shy and slow to make friends until I was a grown up and gained some more confidence, I can say that yes, it’s true, our society doesn’t always value the quiet, but also, yes, it’s true, that teachers and admissions folks and other people in positions of academic authority tend to have a reasonable sense of the value of the quiet. Your daughter will be just fine — in school and in life. Loud may get the first attention, but not always the best. And, it often doesn’t have the most interesting things to say when it talks.

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Deborah J November 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I was going to comment…
I was not going to comment…
My teen is not a thinker, she is not reserved, or a particularly good listener.
She is a talker, outgoing, quick witted, confident, loud, funny and says whatever comes into her head. She’s very good with people, and hugs a lot.

….and I worry about her just as much. I think we always worry that other people won’t take the time to see the strengths that we see in our children.

She didn’t have the problem of people not noticing her in High School. She had the problem of people not taking her seriously.
Loud didn’t mean disrespectful.
Confident didn’t mean egotistical.
Funny didn’t mean silly.
Social didn’t mean she wasn’t concientious about schoolwork.
It was frequently frustrating for her…like she had to prove herself over and over again.

She just graduated last week and passed every subject, with a high achievement in English.
She’s hoping to do nursing next year, where some of those qualities not appreciated in school will stand her in good stead.

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Glamamom
Twitter:
November 25, 2011 at 1:43 am

I’m not one of “those” people but I’m married to someone like that and he’s lovely. Obviously quite successful having married me and all.

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deborah l quinn
Twitter:
November 25, 2011 at 7:02 am

How lucky she is to have a mom who doesn’t say “couldn’t you PARTICIPATE a little more?” “Just SPEAK UP” … a good admissions person will understand and value your daughter’s observant nature, and her admissions essay (do they still have those?) will speak for her. Because as a few people have already mentioned, what you’ve got on your hands–surprise surprise–is a writer. Get that girl a wordpress template.

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Becky Rice
Twitter:
November 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

I wish I was a thinker. I married one instead.

Your thinker will be just fine.

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