My newest friend asked me this question:
“Would you explain a little more about having poor self awareness?”
That caught me off guard. I tried to gather my wits. How do I explain how I know I don’t know myself well. You see, I’ve always known myself, I was just … wrong. Quite wrong!
So why bother explaining? Because I was asked, and because I think I can. If it’s what others experience, good. If not, good. At least then you have something to measure your experiences against.
Lets start with this, I always thought of myself as laid back. In truth I’m pretty tightly wound, about as tight as the core of an electric motor. But I thought being calm and cool was the way to be, so that’s what I was practising, between bouts of anxiety and bursts of aggression. In fact, my anxiety is bad enough that I get the occasional chest pain, easily mistaken for a heart attack if my pulse were elevated. That’s hardly laid back.
I used to think I was pretty effective at getting things done. I judged this by the fact that I hit the ground running in the morning and collapse into bed at night, having stopped only long enough to eat – sometimes. There were things I could point to and say: “Look, I did that.” I call that “selective vision.”
I’m no better. I selectively see only the incompletes. This is still not reality, just the state of my awareness. I’ve swung the other way. Damned diagnosis. Is it odd that I’m aware that my awareness is wrong?
I enter into any social interaction with my spidey-sense tingling. I’m not sure if I belong, not sure that I’ll fit in, because I’m not sure who I am. I can’t assemble the parts that are me into a picture and hold it up against the landscape of a situation to see if I fit. I don’t see all the parts.
“I don’t know if my presence is required, accepted, tolerated, unwanted, or talked about later.”
Part of this is not knowing the rules, but there’s more to it. I don’t even know the participation criteria, and I certainly don’t know if I fit into that. I don’t know if my presence is required, accepted, tolerated, unwanted, or talked about later. I may never know.
I don’t know if my thoughts are appropriate, and the only way to find out is give them voice. Sometimes I relax, feeling I’m in a comfortable setting. Danger, big danger. I don’t filter my conversation. My thoughts are connected directly to my mouth. Other times I’m sending out test thoughts and I don’t read the returning echos properly.
I always think I could learn from my behaviour, but I never do. Did this situation explode because I offended everyone, or just one sensitive one, making the others uncomfortable for that person, or me? And even if I know that much, the next situation won’t be the same, I’ve learned nothing.
I can tell you this about me, I love to interact with people. I love to converse and kibitz and laugh and carry on. I love to play with words. I love to mix it up with punsters and poets and use my mind flat out, without speed limits.
The ones who love me know, sooner or later I’ll open my mouth and my sharp edged tongue will cut them. They also know it’s unintentional. And if they don’t need space, if they accept my immediate apology, they still know I’ll not forgive myself, nor will I know what rule I broke.
So, if you want to know about me, you’ll have to ask someone else. I don’t really know me all that well. Sorry.
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Last reviewed: 27 Jan 2013