Prompt: What do you do better than anyone else?
A couple weeks ago, I was at an all-ladies comic book club. We were reading Bitch Planet, Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Valentine de Landro As a group, we enjoyed it, which made it difficult for us to come up with a lengthy discussion about it. Without discord, it’d hard to sustain a conversation – unless someone’s willing to go literature student on everyone. Fortunately, that’s where I came in.
However, as I started off on the usage of the color pink to denote violence and my fellow ladies started flipping through the volume to confirm, stared at me, or zoned off, I became embarrassed. Despite the fact that a friend had encouraged me to start the meeting with a 20-minute diatribe (as I occasionally do), I felt exposed, isolated, and like I was doing something to deliberately alienate my peers. Naturally, I finished the thought and pursued it as far as it would go, but I’ve been agonizing about the moment since then.
Inevitably, these moments will happen when I’m with a group of people. Sometimes, I simply want to show off, getting louder, more talkative, and more verbose. Other times, I want to make people laugh and will go farther with my comments and facial expressions. And then there are times, like the one above, when I’m honestly just excited and don’t realize I’m about to express something in an atypical fashion. All three occasions will engender some sort of embarrassment, but it’s the latter one that really sticks with me.
See, I’m aware that I’m intelligent and decent at dissecting arguments and entertainment, but I’m not great at figuring out how my intelligence and dissections fit into society. It’s an issue I’ve been battling for pretty much my entire life, whether it was desperately trying to bond with people over a love of classical literature, demanding that a group member in geometry step up and do his fair share, or being oblivious to a friend’s flirtations because he was pretending to be dumb. I am proud of my abilities, and I want to be proud of my abilities, but I’m aware that they can alienate others. It’s why I’m significantly more open online or in writing than in person. We can gloss over intimacy and awkwardness in writing. It’s more painful in person.
I wish I could convey to others that I’m not trying to make them feel dumb, irritate them, or push them away. In fact, what I’m trying to do is start a conversation, deepen a conversation, or enliven a conversation. I didn’t even realize that conversations about opinions are more intimate than those about actions until a therapist told me a few months ago (and thus why people avoid displaying their thoughts or opinions, even about things like books or movies). It was a revolutionary insight that I absolutely never would have got on my own – it simply runs counter to everything I personally believe.
Since learning that, I’ve tried to be more patient with people and relay more on action-based conversations, but it doesn’t come naturally. I’m constantly taking things a step too far and trying to establish a relationship too fast. Every time I go off, I feel like I’ve committed some grievous faux pas, which haunts me for weeks at a time. I hope that that won’t be the case for the rest of my life, but I’m simply not sure how to completely switch my natural inclinations. Perhaps, if I keep trying though, I can at least get less embarrassed. I’d definitely settle for that.