That’s the gist of social anxiety to me: I love talking, if you get me going I’ll never stop, but even then, there’s a part of me that’s praying you’ll forget I’m there and do all the talking for me.
I’ve always wondered where I got this trait. Was it learned? Or was I born with it? My mother’s side of the family are all Irish, they LOVE to talk. They love to tell stories, jokes; fill a silence with anything including song. My dad’s side of the family is Texan. They too love to talk, and argue, and belt out big belly laughs about the most absurd things.
I don’t know where my silence comes from.
I do know it used to be much worse. I used to not talk because I thought I had nothing worth saying; my opinions didn’t matter or my knowledge on a subject wasn’t enough. I could be the biggest Lord of the Rings fan with the most knowledge (too much knowledge), and yet I would stay silent during a conversation centered on JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth because I thought my words didn’t matter.
Then, I went to college and I was just too tired to talk. I split my time between classes, studying, watching tv, and sleeping. That’s what I did. That’s what I liked to do. Talking had no place in any of those. I let everyone talk for me. My voice wasn’t ready to come out of hiding yet. Years of beaten silence kept me quiet even when I was supposed to be my most free.
The one place where I couldn’t stop talking was in a lecture. I couldn’t handle silence after the teacher/professor asked a question. If no one else answered, it was like words bubbled up my throat and out my mouth. I talked too much during classes. Whatever I said didn’t matter that much but I hated the awkward moments where the teacher looked around the room, hoping with their eyes that someone, anyone, would speak up.
I was quiet after college too–for the first year or so. I lived alone, with my cat in a large city. Sure, I talked on the phone to my mom, my friends–I even talked aloud to my cat, but after a few minutes of hearing my own voice I would slowly start to drift back into silence. It was easier that way.
I’m not sure exactly when I started talking again–really talking. The same loud, confident talking that my family’s were capable of. I spent hours regaling stories to my best friend who lived in that big city near me. I shared more intimate details of my life with my family. I talked to boys without drawing in on myself, or thinking my opinions and thoughts were useless. I boasted and I flirted and I yelled.
I know most of it was the Prozac that got me started again, but some of it was me, yah know?
Even now, I find days where talking is too much, but I do generally enjoy talking so much that I don’t let those days stop me. I made friends in Ireland even when I thought I was going to be alone in a foreign country (again). I successfully dragged around one of my best friends on a 17 day trip through Dublin, Galway, Inis Oirr, Cork, Donegal, and Amsterdam. Sure, when I was highly intoxicated I went silent, but he was always more than happy to fill my silence and that was appreciated, because sometimes I do find it hard to talk. I sometimes need someone to talk for me–so I can rest before I get going again.
Those days still come, where I’m at events and I slink into the background, praying no one will notice me–or try to talk to me–and they don’t. But, then I go home and call my friend to tell her all about it and my voice is heard then. That’s all that matters. I found a place for my voice.
Hi All, I’m currently a MA student at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, studying creative writing. If you’d like to know more about how all of that is going, you can follow me on twitter or instagram @briollre.
Gonna try my hand at this again. I’m not sure how often my posts will be, but keep an eye on this space for more thoughts from my brain.