Well, I guess if I didn’t there’d be no blog would there! So in some ways my ability to always find something to talk (or write) about, and find plenty of words to say what I want to say is a good thing. I’ll take that.
But, I have a lot of anxiety about whether I say too much, be that too many words, or just the wrong ones. When I meet someone, either personally or professionally, I always leave with a sense of embarrassment and shame that I did it again. I went on too much. Again. And then I wonder what the person was thinking, both during the engagement and after. And I wonder whether they will avoid me the next time they see me, lest they attract more of the same.
I’m not sure where the anxiety comes from, or when it began. I remember some of my family telling me that I was annoying when I was a little kid. Was that because I talked too much? I’m not sure. Perhaps I was just generally annoying. I don’t remember all my school reports, but I do remember one, or at least a bit of one. “Talks copiously.” Those were the teacher’s words; words I have never forgotten. And I’ve been teased about it throughout my career too. So perhaps the anxiety has grown from years of people making me feel self-conscious about how much I go on, to the point that I am now that aware of myself when I am speaking that the actual act of speaking itself brings on more anxiety. Jeez, I feel anxious just writing about it!
Before a meeting…
I don’t generally feel anxious about going to meet someone. It could be the first time I’ve met them, a business meeting, a medical appointment, a presentation I have to deliver, anything really, and I approach each with eager anticipation and excitement. Ok, so maybe there are a few nerves there, but only ‘normal’ ones. The sort of nerves you might feel (unless of course you are reading this because you too suffer with anxiety, in which case, you’ve probably got a thing or two you could say about it yourself). Actually, I look forward to meeting people. I am a sociable person, and I thrive when I am in company. Perhaps because it is an opportunity for me to talk….
During the meeting…
But whilst I am in the middle of the engagement, no matter who it is with or what the occasion might be, there’s a little part of my brain (perhaps it’s ‘Ant’) that keeps chipping in, “You’re going on a bit”, “You just interrupted them”, “You’ve already said that”, “That was the wrong word, idiot!” Stuff like that. So sometimes it’s actually quite exhausting having a conversation with people; because between the real listening, the gap listening, and the speaking, all the time I have this little voice up there telling me to shut up! I remember locking horns with a work colleague (not something that happened often at all, might I add) because they insisted that I never listened to them, always spoke over them and was not interested in anything they had to say. I think it’s his voice I hear up there, you know.
After the meeting…
Ah, now that depends on what kind of meeting it was or who it was with. So if it was a business meeting, say, I would agonise afterwards about what the audience thought of my input, my ideas. If I was chairing the meeting, was I an effective chair? Did I listen to everyone’s views? Did I encourage everyone to participate? Were they engaged? Were they inspired or just plain bored? What will they say about it when they’ve left the room? I am a genuine believer that feedback is a gift, and I kind of wish that every meeting could be followed up with some feedback form so I could answer all those questions, quit worrying, and move on! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like that after every meeting. I do know where my strengths lie, and am generally quite intuitive about people. But it happened often, when I allowed self-doubt to creep in.
If it was an appointment, a medical one perhaps, I would leave worrying about what the Doctor thought. Did they think I was a know-it-all? Did they think I was stupid? Are they groaning when they see the family name pop up on the screen? Do they think I’m an over-cautious, over-protective, hypochondriac mother? For the record, I don’t think I am. I know from my time in the hospital with Freya that the Drs gained a lot of respect for me because I showed a deep interest in Freya’s condition and the treatment, medication, etc that went with it. If they mentioned the immune system one day, I’d have a pretty good grasp on it by the next (thanks Google!). I still think I annoy the hell out of them with my lists of questions and copies of medical papers that I have gathered during my research! Oh well, keeps them on their toes ;).
And what of a casual meet up for coffee with a friend? Surely that can’t bring any anxiety with it, can it? That’s a nice meeting. One without any expectation other than that the coffee and the conversation will flow. But actually, these kinds of get togethers are the ones that cause me the most anxiety of all. Perhaps because it’s me I’m putting out there isn’t it? It causes me anxiety because it matters to me that the other person enjoyed my company. And I want them to ask me again! I worry if I said too much, if I didn’t say enough in response to their own concerns, did they leave feeling like I didn’t care about what was going on in their world? Was I boring? Did they leave thinking “All she ever talks about is…”? Did I let them speak? What was it they said about…was I listening? Did they really want to leave an hour ago but were too polite to say? Will they get home and think of all the other things they could have been doing instead of getting their ear metaphorically chewed off by me? Sometimes it makes me sad. And I cry real tears whilst the disapproving voice in my head says, “You did it again, didn’t you McBride..”
Ok, so I’ve probably just committed social suicide! (See how I’m now going to stress about what I’ve just written!) If you were thinking about inviting me for a cuppa, please don’t change your mind through fear of transforming me into a blithering wreck by the end! That isn’t the case most times. Sometimes it’s extreme worry, and I’ve not quite worked out if there’s any reason or pattern. I’ll probably always wonder what you think of me, whether I was good enough…
And I think that’s where the answer lies. The annoying kid, the student who talked too much, the colleague who didn’t listen…throughout my life people have made me ashamed of how much I have to say. Why does talking too much have such a negative connotation? When is talking a lot, talking too much? Will I ever learn to embrace this part of my character, in spite of what everyone else wants to make me believe? Well I am going to try, and to make a start I am going to make a list of all the reasons why my incessant prattle is a good thing…
- I might be able to say things others cannot
- I am not afraid to say the things others will not
- Talking makes conversation easier (or even possible, lol!)
- I can talk away my troubles
- I can express myself through words – blogging, writing poetry, chatting…
- I can make someone feel better
- I can make someone laugh
- Awareness was never raised with silence
- Words inspire people
- British Telecom said so (“It’s Good to Talk”)
Alright, so I know I am going to have to do better than that if I want to truly buy into the notion that my copious chatter is a good thing, but it’s a start. Perhaps one day I might even believe some of it…