Teachers, Quit Telling Introverts They Should Participate More

I listened closely as my mom reported back to me what my teachers said at the parent-teacher conference she had just attended. The report was always the same—I was an excellent student, I worked hard, and I didn’t have any behavioral issues. My teachers only had one complaint: I should participate more, because, as they put it, they “wanted other students to benefit from hearing my voice.”

At 8 years old, this led me to start subconsciously internalizing a dangerous message: I was too quiet. However, I did not actively try to change my quiet nature. At that point, I didn’t see the point in trying to speak up more. I was convinced that I didn’t have anything to say that was original enough or important enough that everyone needed to hear. And frankly, the thought of speaking in front of 30 other people terrified me.

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