I have been called many things in my day, some that have impressed me with the ingenuity behind the alleged insult, some that have been true so I've simply shrugged them off, some that have pierced my heart like a needle bringing tears to my eyes and a stinging in my soul, some that have outright pissed me off and more than a few that have made me laugh. I've deserved some, earned some, and done nothing wrong to get others. Mostly they've just been labels flung at me by a society who feels the need to fit in and belong at all costs, and I've managed to survive because I don't cling to conformity. I like to fit into the fringes of society, just enough to function but not enough to get caught in the endless and tiresome games society plays at a randomly chosen victim's expense.
I have been a randomly chosen victim. An easy mark, if you will. Because I have possessed one thing that these labelers have been unable to grasp--silence. Is it merely a coincidence that I've acquired the skill to stop a forked tongue before it wags, or is it related to the hearing impairment monkey on my back since my pre-teen years? Call it quiet, call it shy, call it withdrawn, it's probably all of those and more, but it's definitely something I've known was different about me since I was in kindergarten, maybe even before. I've always felt it, that eerie distance, I've always known I belong outside the circle. I used to think it meant there was something wrong with me, but now I realize it's just how it is. Sure, sometimes it's lonely, but sometimes it's comforting too. And I've given up pretending to be someone I'm not. No, I save the costumes for Halloween. You will not find a more loyal, honest, or reliable person than me, if you dig thru the outer layer of frost to get to the warm soul underneath. Not many people have succeeded, but those who have will always have an ally. I will always have their backs. All I ask is that same loyalty in return. Needless to say, I'm disappointed quite frequently.
I prefer to stand in the background, watching and listening, absorbing the scene playing out around me like a sponge. I don't need the spotlight, the standing ovation, the reassuring praise and pat on the head saved for those whose insecurities are obvious. I toot my own horn, so to speak, in the shadows, in the darkness, usually with the people that the labelers wouldn't even acknowledge. Because they are the heart and soul of the world. Not the ones always shouting "Look at me! Listen to me!" The ones who hold their tongues, who keep the secrets, they are the people I associate with. Words are sacred to them, and I know they are capable of going to the death without revealing a confidence. I'm one of them. I've done it. Well, not gone to the death, obviously, because I'm still here, but kept it until it was divulged by the person's own will. Done it more than once, actually. So when I say "You can trust me" you should know you really can.
But there are those whose diarrhea of the mouth is used to gain them friends, attention, notoriety, fame, kudos, whatever sick and twisted thing they are missing in their own sordid lives. Hell, half the time these people will call themselves out, opening their own secrets for the world to see. The others are merely hypocrites, outing other people while sticking their own secrets in a lock box and swallowing the key. And the ones who confide only to those who will side with them, they are a whole different hot mess barely deserving a side note in this entry.
I have no use for small talk, even less use for gossip. Sometimes I don't hear things until way after the fact, when the smoke has already cleared. Sometimes I don't hear it at all, thank God. Sometimes I hear and pretend I didn't, and when a friend is the butt of the nonsense I let them know. Gossip never ever helped a situation. I've never heard anyone say "I'm so glad you told me all that about so-and-so, I feel much better about the situation now!" No, no good can come from it. I listen, sometimes. It's unavoidable. But I try to keep my mouth shut. Lately though I realize that's not right, either. When the gossip dragon looms in front of me, even if it wasn't breathing fire in my direction, I need to do my part to slay it. That would be like a superhero walking past a person in need saying "That's not my fight." It is my responsibility to do what I can to end pointless and evil gossip before it spirals out of control, enveloping everything in a torturous kudzu of sentences growing wildly out of control all because one individual overheard one tiny seed and decided to plant it in another person's garden. If I don't, I'm an unwilling cog in the wheel of gossip that allows it to keep turning. And that's not something I'm comfortable with.
It's easy to get caught up in the gossip wheel. It's usually interesting, because it's always the dirt about someone. But that someone is usually a randomly chosen victim, maybe even someone who thought they were talking to someone they could trust. I have betrayed trust in the past, and I have had my trust betrayed more times than that. I know how horrible it feels to do and have it done to me. It's a choice. It's always a choice, isn't it? It's easier to succumb to it than to stand against it. I'm too strong to take the easy way out. I'd rather stand for something. That's my choice. I choose silence. It is golden. It is kind. It is quiet. And coming from someone who uses technology just to be able to hear a regular conversation, that says a lot.