Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Speed of Thought

I'm an introvert.  I think the main reason for this is because I can't think of anything interesting to say when I meet people.  My brain does not think on its feet.  It's very uncomfortable.  People say you just need to relax, don't worry, say whatever - friends won't care if it's some earth-shattering idea or not.  I agree, but seriously, something is wrong with my brain.

Let me give you an example.  I was recently driving my daughter to symphony rehearsal and was stopped at a light.  A car pulls up next to me in the turn lane and motions for me to roll down my window.  It was some elderly man, so I did, with the worry already beginning in my stomache, "Aww man, what am I going to have to say?"

He asks me, "How do I get to highway 17?"

Well, this is excellent, because that's exactly where I'm going!  I do a little internal Dance of Joy and I tell him, "Oh, it's just straight ahead.  You go around a bend to the left.  A Starbucks will be on your right.  Make a right-turn, and 17 is right there!"  I was very pleased with myself for being able to answer.

"Oh, so I'm in the wrong lane?"

Shit.  Stupid brain, why didn't you think of that before?

"Oh, sorry, no, you can actually turn left right here, and then at the second light, you'll hit Bascom.  Turn right there, and you'll get to 17 also!"

Again, I'm pleased with myself for coming up with the right answer.  The light turns green and off we both go.

I short while later, my brain nudges me and says, "Uh, the light we were at was Bascom.  We meant to tell him Camden."

Shit.  I hope the "second light" part was enough to get him to the right place.  Sorry, Old Guy.

Even when I'm not racing to provide information before the light changes, I find it extremely difficult to speak up and voice my opinion.  Especially at work, I need to think all the implications through before giving an answer, which makes face-to-face meetings very stressful.  I greatly prefer e-mail, where I can take the time to craft my answer.

Even in social situations, where the answers don't matter much, I still don't know what to say.  I spent my earlier years in online social games where you type to each other, because it gave me the freedom to think.  Maybe I looked like a slow typer, but that's far superior to sounding like an idiot.  Needless to say, this helped my dating skills not at all.

Even this blog entry, I've gone back and editted the sentences above many, many times while writing.  I could never have this conversation in real life, because my mind won't feed me the right words.

Is this normal for other people too?  How do you get around it?  To me, you look like the equivalent of the proverbial "social butterfly" always able to hold up your end of the conversation.  But maybe you feel as uncomfortable as I do inside?  I hate living this way.  It's so much less stressful to keep to myself, even though I don't want to.

Life is hard.

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