Before I get to the topic of this blog post, I want to say thank you to the 92(!!) people who read my first post. That’s an incredible number of people who decided to take time out of their day to read about my train affinity. Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it.
Now, on to the wonderful topic of my experiences with socialization. Most of you know that I am rather chatty. I talk a lot, and people often tell me that it’s a defining characteristic of interacting with me. This is, of course, quite accurate and a lot of the time I spend in groups or otherwise interacting with people in social settings is spent by me talking. However, what most of you don’t know about my talkativity (I don’t think that’s a word but I’m going to go with it) is that I really don’t like it about myself, and I have a hard time controlling it.
It’s an interesting situation when something that people consider to be a defining characteristic of you is something that you kind of wish wasn’t true of you. I know we all have parts of our personality like this, and that’s okay. People can see different things in us than we can see in ourselves, and we may not always like it. None of this is to say that I don’t like talking or anything like that, but it really does annoy me.
In order to figure out why it bothers me, I probably need to figure out why I do it at all. I don’t really have an answer to that question. I think it has something to do with my general sense of nervousness and my social anxiety. Whenever I’m around people, especially people who I haven’t spent much time around, I get nervous that they won’t find me interesting, or that they won’t like me, or that I don’t talk enough, or that I talk too much, or that they will think I’m rude if I don’t talk very much, or any number of other things, and I get nervous.
The way I (semi-consciously) deal with this is to try and come up with a response for everything that anyone says and say as many of them as feels right. One of the problems with this is that it often leads to me talking way too much, to the point where other people aren’t able to enjoy the conversation, and I don’t get anything out of listening to myself talk. Another problem with this is that because I often end up speaking on topics with which I have no knowledge or familiarity, I often say stupid things, uninteresting things, or occasionally hurtful things that I never mean to say. I also often resort to my knowledge base of random facts, which I know annoys many people that I talk to.
A prime example of this specific behavior is yesterday (Friday) evening, when I was hanging out with my new intern friends. I was in a group of people I really want to like me (or at least tolerate me), and so I was naturally nervous, even on top of my general “I’m around new people” nervousness. I responded to this by doing a brain dump of many of the things I know about the city of Chicago, which is a very considerable number of things. I’m sure I annoyed every one of them way more than I should have.
The biggest problem with my feelings about my outgoingness is that it causes me more anxiety and stress than I want it to. Sometimes, I feel like I spend more time worrying about why I’m like this than I do trying to be myself. I obsess over whether the one tiny comment I made three days ago hurt someone’s feelings or annoyed them, and if so then how it annoyed them and what I can do better next time, when in reality, usually it either didn’t annoy them at all or they’re miles over it by now.
Another side effect of this is that I rehearse most things I say in my head (or even sometimes out loud) a number of times before I say them. I say things, think about what people will say back to me, respond to their response, change the parameters, and go again. This is an incredible waste of time and it causes me a lot of stress, especially considering that I should usually just say the thing that I want to say, and not assume I can possibly simulate every possible response that the person I’m talking to will have.
For all of these reasons, and more that I didn’t really want to discuss in this already too long blog post, I’ve really always considered myself an introvert, despite how much I talk. I consider myself most comfortable reading a book, or listening to a symphony, or writing code or a blog post, or other activities I can do by myself. I do really value my friendships and conversations with people, but I also really wish I could control myself a bit better during them. I often enter a conversation deliberately thinking about how I’m going to be quiet and then mere minutes into the conversation, start talking a mile a minute and get more and more nervous about how much I’m talking, which leads me to talk more. See the pattern here?
Anyways, I didn’t really have an agenda when I started writing this post, but I just wanted to talk a bit about me and some of my feelings about myself. If you’re talking to me and you feel like I’m hogging the conversation too much, definitely feel free to tell me to quiet down a bit or whatever, and I’ll do my best. On the other hand, if you really enjoyed a conversation that we had and you want to tell me that, I’d really appreciate it. My chattiness is a defining characteristic of me, regardless of whether I want it to be, and I will always have a complex relationship with it, but I also do understand that it’s a big part of my personality. As always, I’m endeavoring to be as pleasant to be around as possible, and I know that I often fall short of my own and others’ expectations.
Wow, this post has been really rambling and probably incoherent. If you have any questions or would like me to clear anything up, feel free to let me know.
As always, thanks for reading,