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Confessions Of A Social Phobic

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My mouth betrays my mind. My mouth hinders my thoughts from being coherently expressed. I know that my words have made me appear less intelligent before they have ever left my mouth. Sitting in quiet agony, I withhold contributions to conversations knowing that any attempt will be delivered in stammered prose.

Hidden behind my mouth, there is another Matt. A Matt that very few know, or will ever see. Instead, most will see me as one, or all, of these possible personalities: the quiet and awkwardly shy man; the asshole who thinks he is too good to talk to you; the simpleton who is trapped in a conversation above his education level. If I am to be truthful with myself, there is a part of me in all three options. However, my point is that there is more to the Matt you know than the socially retarded exterior that is presented.

The one positive that I have gained from my lack of eloquence is perspective. There are many who believe speech is the greatest indicator of intelligence. To those holding this view, the person who is a flawless orator is lauded as a genius, while the person who struggles in their speech is an uneducated rube. In my relatively short 29 years of life, I have observed people who validate this claim. That said, I have met an equal number of people who turn that idea on its head.

Writing is the only time when I do not feel self conscious in communicating with others. Not to say that I think myself to be a great writer, but at least I am able to get the words that are so often trapped, out of my head. My ginormous, bearded head.

So the next time you find yourself engaged in conversation with me and that long lull makes its first appearance, remember this, my friend.

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3 Comments

  1. You come off much less "retarded" than you think. I'd say you appear more reflective, perhaps even stoic, but certainly not a simpleton.

    I'll tell you what I told my wife, who also feels socially retarded (but likewise isn't.) When I talk, I can convince, I can grab attention, but I can just as easily be ignored, since I'm talking all the time. When she talks, the whole room will go silent to hear her words. Because she doesn't waste her voice on the small things, she gains enormous authority when she does speak.

    In the times when I have heard you speak up in a group setting, the same applies to you.

    I've had to learn to hold back, to wait to cash in all my chips, and when I do, I have a more considered point and receive a more respectful response.

    If you save your comments to the appropriate time, you appear much more wise than you think.

    Also, don't apologize when you aren't perfectly describing your thoughts. Everyone intuitively understands in that moment, and there is no need to waste time on that. Just pause, think, and continue talking. Don't transfer their thoughts from your words to thoughts of sympathy for your own frustration.

  2. I know what you mean. I can hold a conversation with one other person, but as soon as another shows up, I drop dead silent as the other two speak. It gets even worse if the crowd is larger than a dozen; I have stood up to ask a question only to have words collide head-on with my teeth, pile up in my throat and unceremoniously fall out of my mouth in some clusterfsck of English. The irony of the situation was my question involved speech styles and proper communication.

    Anyway, I think the difficulty in speaking as opposed to writing stems from the fact that speaking *is* on a timeclock, whereas when writing, you can collect your thoughts, revise, edit and even look up references to aid your prose.

    I'd like to echo Brian in that the few times I have spoken in a small group (once I managed to speak loud enough), I immediately commanded everyone's attention.

    Honestly, when people display social uneasiness or public speaking difficulties, I do not and can not judge because I am in the same boat. Personally, whenever I hear you speak, you display a high level of intelligence, even if a few words might get in the way.

    So, don't worry about the situation; more people are understanding than you might suspect.

  3. I totally get it. Believe me.

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