Yesterday, I realized something which may sound strange unless you’re the polar opposite of the oddity that is me. Small talk is a social custom that I dread more than any other. In almost any crowd of people, whether among acquaintances or strangers, I feel like I stand out as the most awkward person present.
Like a silly sheep, I stand there with zero clue about what I’m expected to do or say. Should I sit down? Should I stand by myself or grab a drink? Should I strike up a random convo with that bubbly person or maybe that loner over there? Who cares? No one would even notice.
Like a fish out of water, I feel like I’m flopping around, visibly dying a slow, tortured death during simple conversation. But if I break away, I feel somehow conspicuous while walking across the room. That’s right: pretty floppin’ ridiculous.
Even though I’m no actress, I think I’ve established a few habits that allow me to mask some of my feelings. And it helps that deep down, I know who I am. So on the off chance someone felt the urge to talk to me, I’d be able to hold my own. One of the best things I’ve learned to do in these situations is to focus on something other than my predicament; I hyper-focus on the setting and the people I’m with instead of my nerves. If I’m somewhere to do with my kids, that’s what I focus on or where I keep any conversation based. If I’m in a work setting, I’ll focus on the task or the client. Try not to allow any awkward lulls to creep in. This is done simply so I survive every social situation I naturally face in life. You may wonder if I’m exaggerating. Sadly, no, I’m not.
Friends, when I get serious in self-evaluation, I truly wonder if I have some mental health issues. Perhaps not for the above reason only, but for the myriad other issues that I’m happy to share. My aunt has introduced the idea of Adult-onset ADD or ADHD. I’d say it’s entirely possible that I’ve recently developed this burdensome disorder even though the symptoms show up in places other than the randomness of my actions. I’m telling you–it’s evident by what goes on inside my head as well. My thoughts never still. When needs must and I have to concentrate, it takes every ounce of everything I have to stay focused on the task at hand. And I’m able to excel at that task if it’s challenging enough. If it bores me, I’m liable to drift to another thought or task that suddenly seems more pressing. If the book I’m reading is boring, I’ll fall asleep. If the conversation I’m involved in isn’t stimulating enough, I’ll drift off to realms that only exist in my imagination. But, funnily enough, I don’t find myself to be a boring subject. Ahem. Like I could spend hours delving the depths of my mind’s pathways. You probably didn’t expect that amount of exceptional humility from me, I’ll bet. Ha ha.
From what I understand, there are ways to deal with this. Books that have structured methods for helping the ADD brain to get on track or even embrace the weaknesses and strengths represented in each individual facing the challenge. Medicine, marijuana, following a strict schedule, working on a creative project, even isolating oneself all seem to be ways to cope. But one thing I could never see being a help would be to exist in a chaotic environment just because the disorder is too difficult to take on. To let everything fall apart as I give in and stop fighting. Yes, every day is a fight to stay on track. Like facing a war that you know will never be over. But the alternative is unimaginable.
Every day, I think, I need a life coach. Can’t someone put on my adulting hat for me and make all my decisions? It’s too much. I’d rather go dream up a new story or drift to the borders of my consciousness where I create my deepest poetry than make decisions for my kids or my future.
Friends, if you’re anything like me, please please please…find the strength to admit it and then send me a sign. We’ll have to think up some code word for you to say so I don’t always feel so alone and out of place.
I’m open for suggestions. Leave ‘em below. Until next time…