I haven’t written anything in a while and I’m really not in the mood to go to bed. I just had an International Political Economy lecture followed with my usual hour long discussion with a friend on global politics.
There’s this stupid semi-presentation thing I have to do next week. I hate it. I really, really hate it. At times I get depressed about this. About this defect. If I could speak clearly I would change the world. I would join parties, debate people in class, preach, tutor or work as a lecturer (I would love that), make YouTube videos on either politics or just gaming. Or perhaps do book reviews. I would sing. I would tell my future girlfriend a poem each day. I would read stories to my kids one day…
But I can’t. All I can do is be silent. I have no choice but to be “quick to listen, slow to speak”¹. It’s really depressing.
To make it worse, even when I speak clearly I don’t. This is due to two reasons. The first is that I don’t always know how to describe something. I mean I’m almost finished with my honours degree and the one problem all the lecturers point out is still my grammar.
The second and more painful thing is this: whenever I use some obscure word people will not understand what I said. Even when I say it clearly, they won’t know. Why? Because they assume that as I am often unclear, that they misunderstood me because of my problem. To give an example, if I say I learned about Tenochtitlan. If someone SAYS it, people would probably say nothing. But because it’s weird AND because of my problem they would think I’m being unclear and that I probably mean Tennessee or something. So even when I’m clear I am not.
N. T. Wright talked about this. As this is my blog I’ll share it in length:
One of the greatest journalists of the last generation, Bernard Levin, described how, when he was a small boy, a great celebrity came to visit his school. The headmaster, perhaps wanting to impress, called the young Levin to the platform in front of the whole school. The celebrity, perhaps wanting to be kind, asked the little boy what he’d had for breakfast.
“Matzobrei,” replied Levin. A typical central European Jewish dish, Matzobrei is made of eggs fried with matzo wafers, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Levin’s immigrant mother had continued to make it even after years of living in London. To him, it was a perfectly ordinary word for a perfectly ordinary meal.
But the celebrity, ignorant of such cuisine, thought he’d misheard. He repeated his question. Levin, now puzzled and anxious, gave the same answer. The celebrity looked concerned and glanced at the headmaster: What is this word he’s saying? The headmaster, adopting a there-there-little-man tone, asked Levin once more what he had had for breakfast. Dismayed, not knowing what he’d done wrong, and wanting to burst into tears, the boy said once more the only answer he could honestly give: “Matzobrei.” After an exchange of incredulous glances on the platform, the terrified little boy was sent back to his place. The incident was never referred to again, but to him it was a horrible ordeal.
I’ve also noticed that due to both the above issues, the longer my sentences are the less chance people have of understanding me. So my replies are always short. Then I come off as irritated or blunt.
There’s also another thing. I noticed that it also depends on my confidence and my personality. When I’m angry I speak clearer. Yet when I try to be comforting I am unclear. I’m clearer around certain people like my friends, and less so around others. It also seems to vary depending on the time of day. In the midday it’s good, by night it’s bad. I’m not sure why. Probably because I’m tired. Sometimes during the day it could be bad. So I never know how it will be.
Even worse, I developed this unhealthy habit of avoiding people’s eyes when I speak. It wasn’t always like this. I avoid them because I have become terrified, as in psychologically frightened, at the faces people make when they didn’t understand you. That “huh” face. It always cuts me deep and makes me miserable for a while.
You would think that the older you get the more used you get to it. That you finally make peace with it. That’s not true. The older you get the more you become aware of it. The more you realise what it means for your life. How it influences your relationships, and your career, and even something as stupid as a 5 minute discussion in class.
It was actually a really good day today. I enjoyed singing along to my awesome music on my way home. And I did well on my assignment again. And things are really good the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure why I wrote what I just did, but it needed to come out.