Know Thyself

 

PERFECTION

It may be a surprise to many of you, but I am not perfect.

[stunned silence]

I’ll give you a minute or two, to get over the shock. I understand that this might be hard for those of you who were completely convinced of my ultimate state of perfection. However, as I think self honesty is one of my better characteristics, I feel it is better that this revelation is out there, in all it’s glory, to be digested and debated for decades to come. I am an imperfect being.

I happen to be a bit of an optimist when it comes to humanity, so I tend to believe that a person’s worst traits in some situations, can be their asset in other situations. That doesn’t mean that these bad traits are likeable. I am sure that some of mine are barely tolerable in the eyes of many. Actually, I am positive of this, given the amount of people who have pretended not to know me in social situations, unfriended me randomly on the social medias, and anonymously and abusively private messaged me on the internets.

In the interest of knowing thyself, I have been taking a good hard look at my imperfections of late. And I thought it was time to share them with the world. Well, some of them. Some, such as my habit of farting loudly when I wake up in the morning, and the fact that I occasionally forget to wear clothes when I walk into the backyard to get something off the line, are probably best kept as dirty little secrets. Oh, wait. Whoops!

I talk. A lot. And very, very, loudly.

When I was a kid, my grandfather was fond of telling me that I could talk underwater, with a mouth full of golf balls. And, a bad case of glue ear left me a little deaf for a while, when I was about four. On top of that, I was always “that weird drama kid”, so I was taught by professionals to project my voice, and I took to it with gusto. These forces combined, making me both very talkative, and very….. projected.

Verbal diarrhea is a specialty that I am not always proud of. There are many occasions, more than I could even begin to count, where I find my mouth moving, my voice box working, and my brain, which is screaming “Please! Please guys just shut the fuck up already!” is being completely ignored. I have given far too much information to bemused call centre staff who are clearly only interested in potentially updating my private health insurance. I have meandered into random and bizarre deep and meaningful conversations with a random middle aged drug addict, who appeared to be more interested in trying to obtain my credit card from my clutch, than listening to my life story.

I’m pretty sure the ability to verbalise my every thought is a genetic trait. My mum is rarely short of something to say, nor is my father. Family meals in our family are rarely a quiet affair. And, there is an upside to being a family of over-talkers: we never have the problem of awkward silence. Sharing a family meal with my extended family is never quiet – it’s a constant, loud hive of voices. We talk over the top of each other (another fault, but I feel it is encompassed here). We shout at each other, even when we aren’t mad. We cut off the sentences of others, through sheer enthusiasm to be heard. We would make an epic reality TV show.

In fact, it’s a positive of being talkative, period. When situations are awkward, and the silence is not comfortable, my superhuman powers of chattiness go into overdrive. Subjects are changed in seconds. Attention is diverted almost instantaneously, from awkward to “WTF is Rissa blathering on about, now?”.

I have a a pretty full-on personality.

I am extremely extroverted. Not just a little bit extroverted, or extroverted when it suits me, or extroverted when it suits you. I’m on, all the time. I literally have no idea how to stop it. It is not always my intention, but I have a tendency to dominate conversations, and attempt to steal the show in social situations. When I am aware of it, I try to stop it. I will actually walk away from a conversation, pretend to go to the bathroom, or occupy myself by arguing with someone who is wrong on the internet, in an attempt to remove myself from a situation where my extroverted nature is going into overdrive.

I have had people tell me that they found me intimidating when the first met me. They have interpreted my extroversion as arrogance, and decided that I am actually an arsehole. One of my favourite people in the world could not stand me when we first met. When I first started my current job, a coworker submitted a report about my personality, and labelled me an arrogant, opinionated, know it all (the exact words used). Note, my work ethic and ability were not the problem. It was my personality.

The thing is, when an extrovert is nervous, or uncomfortable, or in a challenging situation such as, oh, I don’t know, starting a terrifying new job where they are surrounded by people who are often a little arrogant and confronting themselves, they are likely to become more over the top. Being “out there” is a coping mechanism for people like me. When the going gets tough, I am more likely to cover my terror with false bravado than I am to flee the situation in tears. I cannot tell you how much I wish that I was not this person, at times. But other times, it is a benefit. To me, and to those around me.

When a situation is genuinely dangerous, or stressful, or upsetting, my personality means that I am often the person who can hold it together. I can make terrified children laugh, I can confront people who are hurting or offending others without hesitation. As much as I am a massive pain in the arse, I am also a handy person to have around if you need someone to stick up for you, defend you, or fight for you. I often become the accidental spokesperson when things go wrong, purely because I am the one who’s natural instinct is to keep talking until it is all sorted. Which is probably a big part of what loses me friends. But, if you can’t see past the bravado, and recognise who I am behind it, I guess it’s your loss as much as it is mine.

When the going gets tough, I crack jokes.

I guess it goes hand in hand with being an blabber-mouthed extrovert. And I will say upfront, that it is a habit that has gotten me out of trouble on quite a few occasions. When I am under emotional stress, when the world is falling in on me, when people around me are on the floor in tears, I often find myself desperately grasping for the funny side of life. Anything. If it makes me giggle, I’ll probably say it.

The problem is, while those who are near and dear to me recognise this as a coping mechanism, I can understand that it can occasionally seem insensitive to the uninitiated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pole dancing at funerals, or slapping pies into faces during serious arguments. The truth is, I struggle with displaying emotion. I struggle with admitting I am sad, and I find grief really tricky to deal with. So when I find myself backed into a corner of overwhelming emotion, I tend to find myself avoiding it with humour.

It doesn’t work, by the way. All it does is delay the inevitable tears, leaving me as that weird, puffy eyed, red faced lady, who is crying into her husband’s jacket long after everyone else has shed their tears and moved on. And, to my horror, it usually draws attention to me while I am bawling like an idiot, at one of the few times in my extroverted life that I have no desire to be the centre of any attention, in any capacity. So it is basically an epic fail. One that I am destined to repeat possibly for the remainder of my life. Or, until the dementia sets in.

Well, I guess that’s it. I mean, I know I have many, many many more faults that I could admit to. I’m a plethora of irritating habits and random tendencies, same as every other person I have ever met. These are the ones that I seem to get pulled up on. The ones that I know I have to be aware of. I’m not in the business of hurting other people, I don’t want to cause them unnecessary distress. So these are the ones that I try to keep in check.

There is a massive upside to being a chatterbox, extrovert, scary situation dodging, wannabe comedian. It was summed up pretty well by my husbands best friend, the best man at our wedding, and someone who I have always had complete respect and admiration for. In his speech on our wedding day, he described me as “the kind of person who will instantly be your best friend, and she means it.” The fact that he, as an extreme introvert, was prepared to speak at all, was pretty damn awesome. The fact that he could see the good side to all my faults, even though we are such opposite beings, was even better.

rissa shots
Despite popular opinion, this is not a portrait of perfection.

 

 

 

 

 

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