Talker, chatterbox, blabbermouth. Verbal diarrhoea, talk-for-England, talk the back-end off a donkey (what does that even mean?!). Yup, in my time these things have all been said about me or to me. Usually if someone brings the name-calling, I would launch into a huge (albeit it polite – I can’t bear confrontation) argument as to why the person saying such things was in fact totally unfounded in their opinions, and therefore grossly mistaken. There’d probably be a slide show and a Q and A at the end too. But, in this instance, I can make no such defense of myself. No slide presentation. Nope. Because I do talk. A Lot.
It may not come across in my blog, but I’m a naturally timid person. I was painfully shy growing up, but it’s kinda hard to get on in the world if you’re a shrinking violet. So post-school, and into the scary, loud, daunting world of grown-ups and work, I had to create an alternative “me” – one that seemed outgoing and confident and assured – just so I could ask my boss how he liked his coffee! Bless…
My first job was like being thrown into the fire. Working at an entertainment agency, the phone was always ringing, artists were always dropping by the office, and there were always gigs to go to (to support the guys on our books). That’s a bit of a tricky environment to be in if you struggle to say hello without glowing hotter than the sun! If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, one of my bosses was a vampire, his girlfriend was a snake charmer-come-contortionist, and my first (and only!) visit to our London office (where they both resided) was met with this throw away remark from said boss: “Watch where you sit. Henrietta’s out here somewhere”. “Who’s Henrietta?” I asked. “She’s Nicky’s python”. Ohh, well that’s alright then, I thought there was something to worry about for a moment..! WTF?!! Into the fire indeed! Anyways, I’m rambling (oh man, it’s even started to spill over into my writing!)…
So, over the years, this alternative me has been getting quite accomplished at faking cool ease at conversing with strangers – at jobs, on courses, at social do-dahs. Yup, I can just about handle these things. But now it’s started to go the other way. Now I can’t stop talking! Much like my struggle to talk to people in the first place, this over-talking is a nervous thing. When I was younger, the difficulty I found in talking to people was borne out of uncomfortability – shrinking into the background was much easier for me to handle than actually putting myself out there. Now, I’m well and truly out there, talking nineteen to the dozen at every opportunity, because the uncomfortability of audible silences is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. If there’s a break in conversation, or cessation of noise, the awkwardness of the silence is too much for my poor little self to take. So I fill it, with all-consuming stuttering gobbledygook.
I’ve been increasingly aware of this recently, but I hadn’t quite realised the full extent of my jabbering until a car journey with friends a couple of weeks ago. I drive a lot, but usually on my own, or with the sacred few people in my life that I feel comfortable enough with to allow my muteness to flow. On this journey, however, I was a passenger, not the driver (which in itself is an interesting experience for me – but that’s another story, another control issue :)), and I realised (several hours later) that I had chewed the ears off my poor friend, her husband and their kids for the full one hour drive. I barely paused for breath! Worse still, it didn’t end when we pulled into the car park. Oh no. My constant chattering continued for the SEVEN HOUR day trip. The only respite my friend got was going off to take part in a half marathon – now that’s some excuse to use just to get away from my tirade of talking! I’ve heard of talking someone into a marathon, but this was ridiculous!
When I get a touch of the talkies, the stuff that comes out is a frenzied mishmash of nonsense, and usually totally incomprehensible to the misfortunate listener. But I’m not loopy. Well, ok, I am :). But this is actually a thing. A disorder called “Pressure of Speech”. It goes hand in hand with another disorder – “Flight of Ideas” – where the stuff whizzing around in your head is going so fast you can’t properly follow it yourself, so good luck to anyone you’re talking to managing to follow it! I can relate to this too; my brain rarely switches off and I sometimes I trip all over my words as I try to get them out. My mouth may well work at nineteen to the dozen, but my brain works at about three times that! What a combination!
This incessant talking of mine divides opinion among my social cluster. Some find it quirky. Others glaze over and revert to the tried and tested nod-and-smile technique. A few even think its adorable. And some find it so hilarious that they get an overwhelming urge to goad me into an outburst of unrelenting gibberish. And me? Well, I find it mortifying! I wanna stop myself. I really do. But it’s like an out-of-body deal. I can see myself getting chat happy, but once it’s in full flow, there’s just no stopping it!
I have a lot of stuff planned over the next couple of months, most of it with people I don’t know in environments where a certain amount of hush is required, so I’m really gonna have to try to reel it in… Hmm. This is gonna be tricky. There is a happy medium between embarrassed silence and running off at the mouth, I’m sure of it. I just haven’t quite found it yet. But it’s out there. And I WILL find it… Ok, I’ll shut up now :).