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Just Because I’m Quiet Doesn’t Mean I’m Stupid

By | Jana Louise Smit |

A few years ago, I walked into an introvert’s nightmare. I had to take a job, for financial reasons, at a high-pressure company. My coworkers were the boisterous and outgoing types. They were on average eight to ten years younger than me, liked office politics, and hated the smallest mistakes. As the new person who did not slickly fall into this pattern, I was soon the outsider. As a self-contained introvert, I was all right with that. I made friends with my ultra-extroverted shift partner but remained on shaky ground with everyone else.

They Mistook Low Self-Worth for Stupidity

I focused on my work. Even though I knew I did not make champagne conversation — you know, the sparkling kind — I wondered why people treated me so borderline disdainfully. I could sense their irritation, even when it was wrapped with politeness.

Then my shift partner called me “stupid” for making a small mistake. Then my boss yelled at me that I was “dumb” because I called him during a night shift when a power failure knocked out the computers and I didn’t know how to get them back online. He even threw the f-word in there.

I overheard people talking about another coworker who got fired for a mistake, and they said the person was “almost as stupid as Jana.” I realized my name had become a measurement for stupidity. Hey, how stupid is this apple? Oh, you know, about three and a quarter Janas. Great.

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