Open Mouth, Insert Foot

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I have a bit of a filter problem. I tend to say whatever pops into my head. Adderall entering my life in my second semester of college helped, although did not solve the problem. This has led to many interesting conversations, has cost me a more than a few friendships over the years, and has in general wreaked havoc on my life. Now, throw in the constant barrage of stimuli and I am constantly in the eye of a perfect storm.

Remember the movie Short Circuit? Johnny Five is one of my favorite characters of all time. Johnny Five is a robot that was struck by lightning a la Frankenstein- which obviously brought him to life. So, of course he has explore his new world- all the while seeking input. I have the good fortune to constantly be seeking input in my own life. I cannot function in a room that is too quiet. I get frustrated because at that point, my thoughts take on a life of their own. Non sequitur seem to be my special gift- although the apparent randomness of my musings actually follow a train of thought that when broken down makes sense. (okay- maybe it only makes sense to me- but, that cannot be helped. The previous sentence is bad. Actually, it’s not the previous sentence. It is the sentence immediately before the parenthesis. I may need some grammar help.)

You wanna know something kinda funny? Well, if not- too bad. Writing about ADD is hard. I am struggling with staying on topic.

So, refocus. Back to the filter/ input problem. No, I have something else I need to point out first. I frequently say things that inadvertently hurt people’s feelings. You see, I am constantly trying to learn and assimilate all that data into a usable format. So, I tend to make incredulous statements- and sometimes forget that people are not necessarily following my train of thought. This is because for everything that comes out of my mouth- there are about 3 other statements that did not make the cut. Typically, the things that do not make the journey to my lips are the things I assume (yes, I used the word assume- yes, I know the danger of that- and yes, I frequently fall into this trap) that the omitted information is common knowledge. I wrote this insanely long- over researched “proposal” while I was waiting to start my job. Okay, let’s be honest- I was hoping for the position to somehow become vacant so that I could take my rightful place on the throne. ha! (I am not royalty- and I realize now that it may have been a little overconfident on my part.) However, there was a whole section that I dedicated to assumptions. You see, most ideas are based on certain assumptions.

There are so many things that run through my head any given moment.  I have to allow myself at least a nanosecond to process before I respond. (However, with ADD- you frequently forget to allow yourself that beat. And, that is where the trouble starts.) You see, I have had lots of therapy. I have read lots of self- help books. I have learned that in order for me to be happy- for the most part, I have to mind my own business. This means that I only need to concern myself with my part of things.

  • What did I do?
  • What was my part?
  • What should I have done?
  • What should I do in the future?
  • Is this an accurate representation of the facts?
  • Was I wrong?
  • Is it really even about me?
  • Is there a lesson I needed to learn?
  • Did I actually cause this?
  • Or- and in my mind, most importantly, is the other person crazy? (If so, I can disregard all of my part.) I may be kidding about the last one. Well, I am probably kidding a little.

When someone says something to me that I find offensive- I really try hard to evaluate whether or not it is something I actually need to worry about. Usually, it is not. So, I try to let it go. (I often fail at that part- but, I do try.) However, if they are responding to something I have done- then, I try to step back and evaluate my behavior. What is my part in this? Usually, there is something I need to work on. Hence all the damn self- help books.

But, did we forget? My filter does not work very well. So, I say whatever thing it is that pops into my head. Hence, lots of people think I am quite rude. Makes me sad sometimes. Not usually. Most people who do not like me are not people I would want to hang out with anyway. But, there is a problem with that logic. When you do things as a member of a team- like my work- or, even more importantly, the upcoming Tough Mudder then you have to be able to work with and both respect and be respected by the other members of the team. Okay, maybe the TM is not more important that my career- but, it IS pretty important. So, I am reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. Yep. The same book Grandaddy got me for Christmas when I was 8 years old. I guess he knew even back then that there was bound to be a problem.

Interesting book. So far, I have figured out- Don’t criticize. Be nice. Ask questions. There is more… but, I cannot remember it right now. I may need to take notes.

I am not using my ADD to make excuses- no, far from it. I just wish I could somehow get people to understand… I would never purposefully hurt anyone’s feelings. I think that is just mean. There is really nothing mean about me. I just forget sometimes that other people do not have the same perspective I do. (A lot of them have not had as much therapy as I have, and may have not really read their self-help books closely enough.) Oh. Wait. See? that was one of things that I probably should not have said.

The best defense I have found is to surround myself with people who know me- people who do not assume that I am being mean. People who give me the chance to completely flesh out what I think about something. You know, I tend to process situations by trying to think of different arguments for it either way. I am a debater. It’s what I do. I am not so naive as to think there are absolutely right or wrong answers about anything. In almost every situation, I can see a time that I might have to change my stance. That is frustrating enough to throw off your whole equilibrium.

So, the next time someone comes up to me to tell me they passed a test, or achieved something they had been working on- I should pause and think before I say, “Oh, you did?” Perhaps it would be better to say “Congratulations!”

As far as the Tough Mudder goes, I am just going to do my best to pay attention and be careful with my words. I am not going to assume that everyone knows what I mean or who I am. I am going to try to be available for the people who are struggling and perhaps feeling like they are not part of the team. I am just going to be present- and not make it all about me. I am going to make it all about us. I am really so very excited that so many people are coming. I feel like they are my friends.

This Tough Mudder is so far out of my comfort zone. I am not going to be athletically ready. I know this!!! However, I am going to do the very best that I can. For me, being part of a team is the most important part. I am going to be vulnerable, and I am going to need help. I have to trust that these people who I have never met, are going to be there to support me. No, they are not going to carry me through it- although Dan already promised he would…. I am going to get through it all- With a Little Help From My Friends.

 

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