What to do when the world tells you you’re “too much” or “not enough”

side chats

Have you ever noticed that as a woman (sorry if you’re not a woman, but we can only speak from experience, so…), you often feel like you have to deal with a ton of seemingly contradictory messages?

“Don’t stay silent! Speak your mind.” But also … “Don’t be so loud and opinionated. You’ll turn people off.”

“Be as accommodating and pleasing as you can!” But also … “Don’t let people take advantage of you!”

“Don’t be a wallflower! Be colorful and interesting so you’ll get noticed.” But also … “Tone it down. There’s no need to be so bold and intense.”

Huh?!

How’s a girl supposed to act when she hears such conflicting information? What are we supposed to do? Try to walk that teeny thin line between “not enough” and “too much”? That’s exhausting.

And yet, it’s a plight that both of us can relate to. We’re talking about our experiences on opposite ends of this spectrum in a brand new side chat. Listen in as we talk about …

  • Kristen’s experiences feeling like she’s “too quiet, too boring, and too much of a doormat.”
  • Rachel’s experiences feeling like she’s “too loud, too intense, and too much for anyone to handle.”
  • How we both got clear on what parts of our personalities we actually wanted to embrace vs. what was B.S. that we needed to let go of.
  • How you can drop the shame around feeling like you’re “too much” or “not enough” and feel good about who you are, either way.

It’s about 30 minutes, which is the perfect length for your commute, a walk, or a break from the office. You can either play it right here on the page, or download and save it for later.

{Press play to listen now or download by clicking the arrow in the top right corner.}

And after you’ve listened, we want to hear from you! Jump over to the comments section to share whether you’ve been labeled “too much,” “not enough,” or something else entirely.

NEVER HEARD OF SIDE CHATS?

As you can imagine, when two best friends run a business together, there’s SO MUCH MORE good stuff — insights, revelations, struggles — that we’re talking about behind the scenes than what you’re reading in blog posts.

Our random back-and-forth conversations — while we’re supposed to be “working,” while we’re eating tacos, while we’re chilling in sweatpants on the couch — aren’t planned at all, and that’s why they’re good … anything can and does come up.

We always find ourselves having these good conversations and thinking, “It’d be cool if people could listen in to this, fly-on-the-wall style.” So, we decided to just press “record” and start sharing with you!

Catch up on previous conversations in the Side Chat Archive.

Enjoy!

Much Love,

Kristen & Rachel


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12 Comments // ADD COMMENT

12 comments

  • BRIT

    Ladieeeees. This conversation was everything. Thank you for having this chat. It’s so so important to think about and consider.
    I, myself, definitely relate more to the “You’re too loud” end of the spectrum but in a little different way than Rachel does. It’s not so much a volume/saying-too-much thing, as it is me being super ultra confident in my decisions and never backing down from them… and when less confident people end up feeling “steam-rolled” by me, I tend to get the “Tone it down, woman” attitude from others. I absolutely understand, like most things, that there’s a balance to be found here, but your conversation really opened me up to the concept again.

    PS. Have never listened to one of your side chats before but now going back to binge! They’re so good!

    • Rachel East

      Hey Brit!

      Totally get the “people wanting to take me down a notch because I’m too confident” thing. It’s funny how *very* uncomfortable people can be with other people’s confidence and self-assuredness, right?? And instead of examine their own insecurities or issues, which would be scary, they instead focus solely on *you* so they don’t have to deal with their own crap. Or at least, that’s how I interpret a good chunk of this type of behavior, anyway. 😉

      So glad you discovered that Side Chats are indeed a thing! Eventually we plan to turn these into an actual podcast … but that may be more of a 2018 project!

  • Michelle

    This resonated with me so much, as I was always too quiet for certain types of people. I would force myself to be loud and obnoxious, but it was so exhausting to try to be this pretend person. I started embracing my “quietness” recently, and quit trying to be someone that someone else thinks is worthier than who I am. I still get the “why are you so quiet” comments, but i usually have some sort of rebuttal. We can’t all be talkers, right?

    • Kristen Walker

      You’re so right, Michelle, pretending to be a loud, extroverted, super talkative person (when that’s not REALLY you at all) is incredibly exhausting. It’s also a form a self-betrayal, which just feels flat-out awful. So I’m really happy to hear that you’re embracing your quietness! If you haven’t read the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, yet, you should! I’m reading it right now, and it’s so fascinating and validating. Plus, it’ll give you more rebuttals for those annoying “Why are you so quiet??” questions. 🙂

  • Julianne

    Thank you so much for sharing, I’ve been struggling for years to come to terms with my quietness and only recently I’ve started to become REALLY, really okay with it and happy with it and proud of it. I usually bounce back and forth between forcing myself to be outgoing and then withdrawing too much when I can’t handle it. I’ve found that when I’m totally comfortable with my quietness, I end up talking when I actually want to and my quirkiness shows up more and people get to see who I really am. And that’s a million times more satisfying than trying to force myself to be someone I’m not.

    • Kristen Walker

      Julianne, I totally get the whole forcing yourself to be outgoing thing, followed by serious withdrawal when you’ve overdone it! Sounds VERY familiar. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve not only accepted your quietness — you’re now happy and proud of it. Which, in turn, allows you to be more authentic and quirky and genuine, which feels great for you and is super attractive to other people. Self-acceptance feels so good. 🙂

  • Janine

    I LOVED THIS CHAT!!! I have that voice too, the one you refer to Kristen. I call it my phone voice, but it is my super polite and somewhat subservient voice. I was totally brought up to be a people-pleaser and your stereotypical quiet, good wife. I rebelled quietly and ended up in a technical, male-dominated profession. I also swear like a sailor and can’t cook for sh*t. I’m still quiet though.

    I too had the same revelation as you both; that I just needed to be me. I think we’re all turned off by people who aren’t authentic, who seem to be hiding behind a mask. I think a part of ‘being yourself’ (which sounds so simple, but isn’t) is acknowledging and enjoying what makes us happy. When we’re honest about who we are and what we like, we attract others and we have topics and interests we can connect on.

    I’ve been made to feel both ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’ which are basically both ways to minimise someone as a person (ime). Typically though, I’m ‘the quiet one’. When I started behaving in a way I felt happy with, I started attracting people who were interested in me. It all felt so much easier – pretending to be someone else is exhausting! When I was hanging around the right (for me) people, people would say stuff like ‘you’re so relaxing to be around’ which was really cool!

    • Kristen Walker

      Yes! The super polite phone voice! Glad I’m not the only one who does that haha. It’s a tough habit to break, right?

      And you’re 100% right that making people feel like they’re either “too much” or “not enough” are just two ways of getting at the same intention: minimizing and shaming people for not being society’s person of perfection. But if you ask me, perfection is BORING. Authenticity and genuinely liking yourself not only feels great internally, it’s incredibly fascinating and attractive to others.

      Thanks for sharing your own journey of accepting your quietness! Hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.

  • Chrystina

    My first co-op job in college I got a lot of feedback that I was too loud. It was an incredibly small office with zero background noise so any talking I did was definitely noticed. When my third co-op job called my first co-op job as a reference, they mentioned that I was too loud. The third co-op job guys, construction management folks on a job site, definitely didn’t care about that. In fact, I’m pretty sure they thought I was too quiet. You just can’t win some days.

    The other reason I think I’m loud and talkative is because I process information by speaking it out loud, which I think is not in line with most of the male engineers that I work with, so talking too much tends to talk me into a problem, when really I’m just trying to talk through things to understand what’s best.

    Definitely a balance.

    Also, I worry sometimes that I have a voice when talking to strangers as well. I’m going to have to be on the look out for it. I know my sister does and as somebody who knows her in reality it always drives me bonkers.

    • Rachel East

      Love this story, Chrystina! It goes to show that “too loud” and “too quiet” are super relative terms. And I totally understand what you mean when you say that you’re more of a verbal processor. I’m the same way. I tend to process things best when I’m speaking them out loud, usually to someone else if I can, but I’m not above talking to myself when needed! 😉

      And while I don’t think it’s a “good” or “bad” thing to have a “strangers voice,” I think what *is* good is for us to pay attention to when we slip into some other role or way of being that isn’t really aligned with who we are, and get curious about why it’s happening. Who am I trying to be in this moment? Why is this happening? And if we don’t love the answers, then maybe we do need to adjust our behavior!

  • Louise

    Thank you for this! I wouldn’t describe myself as loud, but I am very decisive and some people have called it tough, stubborn, bitchy.

    Listening to this for a brief moment I felt like a rebel to the classic feminine quiet way to be – but then I instantly felt something else: I don’t want to be a rebel. I don’t want to identify as bitchy or tough, just because I don’t make an effort to fit into other people’s stereotypes.

    I just want to be me. I don’t even think I am particularly bitchy – I’m just not as quiet or girlish as some people would want me to.

    I get really tired when I think of rebelling against something, or breaking the rules, or identifying as these traits – it’s just a side of me. It’s probably not even the most important or extreme aspect of me.

    • Rachel East

      This is a great thought, Louise! Thank you for sharing. And I agree–it shouldn’t be considered “rebellious” to be yourself. That presumes that there is one “right” way to be, and if you aren’t that, you must be a rebel. And you’re right, it doesn’t have to be “bitchy” or “passive,” “loud” or “quiet” … we don’t live in a world where everything has to be “one” or “the other.” Everything is actually on a spectrum, even if most of the world doesn’t see it like that!