Many people cannot grasp how shyness cripples a child. Relatives and family members are often the first to ridicule a child who is too scared to speak up or play with other children. Seldom do adults realize that belittling her efforts or rebuking her as if shyness were a fault that she could rectify does way more harm than good. It destroys her.

I know because I was such a child. I might not have even existed. I got used to being passed over in groups because I wasn’t expected to say much anyway. People didn’t make eye contact with me, and that signaled to me that I wasn’t important. As I got older, more and more, I tried to get out of situations where I had to meet people. I never learned how to behave in social settings. What is a conversation even? How do you tell a story?

And yet I am writing a story about my life today. A life that just whizzed past me while I was actively engaged in avoiding any social interactions. What happens in a quiet kid’s mind? It’s a whirl—a world of confusion, self‐doubt, and misery; it’s only calm on the surface. It may not be every quiet kid’s story, but it was mine.

I spent my childhood without a voice. And yet, I am grateful that today I work in an accepting workplace, have hobbies that fulfill me, and have control over what I can achieve. I still feel the agony of being quiet in a world that favors the talkative. I have just learned to accept myself. As I grow stronger, I remind myself every day that I am worthy too.

I observe; I find reasons to smile; I go through life with faith; and I believe in miracles. I have an intense desire to soothe other people and to alleviate their troubles, whatever they may be. I go through life touching lives softly. That’s who I am now.