There are so many moments in your life you wish you could have done differently. Why is it that we never feel like we said everything we wanted to say. Not saying something when you should have, leaves you feeling incomplete. But even if you got a do-over, you wouldn’t do much better and you know that. You know it but will keep denying it. I always think of a great thing to have said in a conversation two days after later when the person I was talking to has forgotten it and moved on.
I know when I write this I am not the only one, I have practiced quite a bit in front of a mirror before an introduction. If I have to meet someone new I judge myself in the mirror before leaving the house practicing the best introduction. Every time though I completely forget what I practiced in the mirror and make an awkward mess of my introduction either speaking too much or too little. It’s always disappointing. I know I’m likable and intelligent enough to do better. But when I open my mouth I am a fish out of the water.
Some conversations throw up opportunities to really bring your A-game. I call these monologue moments where you have everyone’s attention and you have something amazing, inspiring and poignant to say. Why is it that in those very moments I draw a blank? I keep stuttering, and my mind flatlines. I can’t help it. I get very easily anxious. In these past few days, I’ve had to make quite a few introductions and even spoke to people I’ve never spoken to before. It was excruciating.
The advantage of text messages is that you have time to think of a response. Of course, you’re constantly at the risk of a misplaced typo or sending them the wrong emoji. But it’s a trade-off you need to make, either you spend the day overthinking that one meeting with a person where you need to put up the best version of yourself or you lie on your bed and reply to a message while binge-watching Black Mirror on Netflix and totally not caring for the person you’re texting. I’d go for the latter any day.
There are some people who enjoy meeting strangers. I don’t understand why and probably never will. It’s stressful because I’m average at best in conversing with people who know me well if it’s people I don’t know it means they won’t forgive my inappropriate sarcasm and will not understand my jokes which are an acquired taste and that is an understatement. So you see, it’s basically a recipe for disaster. Once when I was asked to introduce myself I excused myself because I needed to go puke, I hate having to do it.
Full-fledged conversation is not my cup of tea because I get bored fast. I drift off and don’t respond on time. I might be looking at you but I am actually looking through you. It’s terrible. Fights are even worse, I give up early but I leave enough damage that can ruin the equation. The reason why I don’t like conversations is that I rewind, replay and overanalyse every statement, every reaction and every word to the point where I begin to hate myself. I always feel like I have more to say, or that I could have said things in a million better ways, but most of all I wish I hadn’t said anything at all.
I don’t have a great filter so what I say I mean. I am not good with surprises and lies. But I keep secrets really well. I could never mince my words, I am not gentle when I give my opinion and that has rubbed so many people the wrong way. The worst is when I go off on a tangent, I’ll not shut up until someone actually tells me to. There have been so many times when I said something, an awkward silence followed and everybody looked uncomfortable but I didn’t really get what I said wrong.
These are not unique problems, and that’s why I like them, they’re the least of my worries. But this week has been so full of awkward conversations that I can’t help but be exhausted of listening to myself. I had this problem where I was writing a mail and the five times that I replied I spelt the person’s name wrong all five times. Not on purpose, too! The damned auto-correct went rogue on me. But with each time I spelt the name wrong I knew I was walking on thin ice. A person may forgive you three times for spelling their name wrong when they’re in a generous mood. But when it’s five times they have all the reasons to think you’re either making fun of their name or are just plain dumb and rude.
I still don’t know when ‘Hi’, ‘Hey’, and ‘Hello’ are appropriate, so I make my own rules, and I fall flat on my face when I am wrong. Now with all the abbreviations, it’s gotten even more confusing and all the different expressions that can be made with brackets, colons and apostrophes somehow make me feel like I am being sent morse code. Even though I belong to the ‘LOL’ generation I feel retired. In fact, I remember someone laughing at me because I use full stops and commas in my text messages.
My life is a series of awkward introductions and incomplete monologues. I think people purposely cut me off because I don’t know when to stop and I’m thankful that they have better judgement than me. But for once I want to come out of an introduction feeling like it wasn’t a complete disaster. It’s not just about speaking too much or too little, that’s just the surface, but it’s about really knowing what you want to say. One day I won’t be too late or too early, I’ll say it just in time.