Let's just get this out of the way. I, Dawn L. Keable, was voted most quiet girl of my senior class.
Slightly shocking right? I think so too.
My confession is dual fold. First, I'm actively trying to hedge off the local media, should something tragic happen to me and the only image they can find is the photo of me and my boy, Matt Barden, straight outta the time warp that is the 1989 Burrillville High School yearbook.
He held the title of most quiet boy. I have no updates on him.
I specifically remember that photo session, because I thought very carefully about my outfit. I wanted to wear something that screamed 'I am not this label that you are putting on me', so I opted for the loudest article of clothing in my possession: a neon green striped sweater.
Only the photo was taken in black and white.
I do not want this to be my legacy.
The truth is, I don't think of those days very much, or very fondly. High school? Not a good time for me. I was tall. Tall as the teacher kind of tall. Sporting a short blonde, butchy 'do, because no one quite knew what to do with my super thick fro.
But, it really wasn't my lack of shoulder length straight hair, or cheerleader perkiness that made me not fit in here. I craved a life beyond partying in the woods. Where intelligence was valued over hockey scores. Where smart girls were celebrated, diversity, of all kinds, was accepted and there were way, way, way more than just one way of thinking about things.
So I became super quiet, to blend in. My goal was to not get my ass kicked (especially by those chicks smoking in the girls' bathroom), avoid getting taunted and bide my time until I could find my people. The only thing is, when you go this route, you can't quite turn it on and off at whim.
Finding my voice became a gradual process, one that I've worked on perfecting for over twenty years. My jobs helped. Working as a cashier at a busy cinema, then as a receptionist at an alternative newspaper, don't exactly lend themselves to silence. So did obtaining a college degree, where I was able to immerse myself in learning how to communicate. I am a writer after all.
And, then, there's this very reserved dude named Andre, who's played a huge role in my development. When I met my now husband, I really admired how he could talk to anyone. I've since realized that it's not that hard. I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. And the more open I am, the more the universe keeps rewarding.
Highlights: having conversations with Maxwell and Lenny Kravitz. Yup, I've done that.
There is a downside however. Some folks won't appreciate your newfound voice. Quiet people
are predictable, at least on the outside. And the sad thing about shyness is that sometimes it's all about maintaing control. Of you. More than likely, quiet is not a label that you put on yourself. You might be observant. Check. Thoughtful? Check. Analytical? Check. But shy? Maybe not.
In addition to my year book disclaimer, I also wanted to tell my story to provide inspiration to my newest web idol Brittany, a rockin' eighteen year old, who has not only decided to tackle her shyness head-on, but to document her efforts on her blog The Shyness Project: http://theshynessproject.wordpress.com
You go girl!
I am also happy to report, Ms. Brittany, that I have been officially cured of my shyness for years. Done. Over. And if being interviewed on national tv doesn't speak to that, I'm not sure what does.
So, girlfriend, you keep on pushing. Don't psych yourself out with those labels. Just be you. Fabulous, wonderful you.
And if you haven't gotten caught wearing a neon green striped sweater in public, you're already doing way better than me.