Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lost in Translation

I've always known that I am very eloquent when I write. Even more so than when I speak. I'm good at converting my thoughts and feelings into words, and I try to do it as often as possible.

As far as serious conversations go, however, I really suck at communicating sometimes. I always think of how better to phrase whatever I was talking about an hour or two after it happens. Kind of like how you always think of a better come-back to an insult after you walk away from it.

I have gotten better about speaking my mind through the practice of "blurting", which is just saying what is really on my mind in tense situations in an effort to get everything out on the table. It is a wonderful practice. And it has served me well recently, but it doesn't work in every situation.

In sensitive, serious conversations, where nerves are frayed and feelings may be hurt, blurting can only serve to aggravate the situation. So what is one to do? If I am made to participate in conversations like this, my blood runs cold, I start to shake like I was in a high school trumpet audition, and my emotions go positively haywire from the pressure. I used to be able to mask these reactions, but not anymore. Now things get lost in translation between my brain and my mouth. However, there are solutions to this problem.

Being an introvert means that confrontations are hard. They're hard to navigate and drain us quickly. And then we need time to digest the situation and recharge, which is nearly impossible in most situations. In these cases, writing is the answer.

When I write, I get to think about what I want to say, say it in the most eloquent and precise way I can conjure, and I have time to put my thoughts together to convey the meaning that I want them to. When I'm rushed, precision and true meaning are the first things to flee from my language, leaving me, mostly, at a complete loss for words. Which doesn't fly in serious conversations and leaves the other participant flustered and frustrated. But if you give me time to think about it and compose a paragraph or two, everything is made clear again.

This written approach is by it's very nature proactive, which is unfortunate. Reactionary writing does nothing to assuage the feelings of the person you are reacting to (who is often very emotional by the time the conversation jolts to an abrupt beginning). But in the end, it results in less hurt feelings and better understanding from both parties. I've heard the argument that text can be cold and unemotional and lead to all kinds of miscommunications, but I actually believe that it is easier to say what is on your mind when you sit down and actually think about it long enough to put it into words. I like writing poetry for this reason. Because then I have to really think deeply about what it is I want to say and how.

I hope that I'll find a place in my life that will be more open to this kind of communication someday. Until then, more journaling and more poetry. And if you receive a serious letter from me, don't be offended, take it as a compliment. It means that I care enough about you to tell you how I really feel.

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