A Self-Absorbed Moment

For years people have been misjudging and underestimating me. Sometimes their estimation is correct and so my little secret, that there’s someone worth knowing inside here, someone interesting and occasionally fun, is a bankrupt one as it doesn’t apply to those people – they decide that still waters are murky and stagnant and stink a bit. Or they decide that my intellect is counterfeit, that any pretensions I have to knowledge or wisdom or a share of the intellectual life are just that: pretensions. They are found out for being a façade; pretending; a person unable to back up his so-called interests with real knowledge or experience. And these things are true, to a large extent.

I know that.

I also know that most people don’t twig to this. They think, when they get to know me, that I have a reasonably well developed sense of humour and can talk and think on many levels, some of them more elevated than others. An ability to function on both Apollonian and Dionysian planes, occasionally at the same time, impresses some people – it’s rare to be able to talk footy injuries in one breath, and express a considered opinion about the music of Erik Satie in the next. But this is merely not very commonly encountered. It is not a difficult thing to have one’s mind tuned to the popular and the esoteric at the same time. Still easier is the effect when that’s all it is: an effect – when you’re pretending. When it’s all an elaborately constructed scheme to appear the way a range of people would like to think an acquaintance would and should appear, and when you do appear like that and they take you on as an acquaintance, and you have succeeded, this does not mean you actually care about Michael Ennis’ hamstring or 20th Century French music.

And so maybe I am fearful of being discovered. I certainly am fearful. It isn’t an easy or quick process to get to know me, and I don’t get to know people easily or quickly either (if the two experiences are separate: and I think they are). I am shy – painfully – still and function awkwardly even when I know people a bit better than not at all. And this personality trait seems neither possible to get over or speed up. I might not feel comfortable or I might feel that you aren’t comfortable, and that’s enough to make me feel uncomfortable. And it’s no use to say that you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable with him or her, you know them by now – because it’s beyond my control. I hate small talk and feel I have very little to say. I genuinely do have bugger all to say when things to say are all about what you did recently and what you plan to do. I find myself fascinating in ways that should only ever be shared with a psychiatrist, but after that I have no interest in me as a conversational topic, with anyone, least of all with people I don’t know but should be trying to impress or make an impression on. It makes awkward into painfully awkward.

But maybe my entire personality, such as it is, when it is revealed, is nothing more than a more sophisticated attempt to quarantine myself from certain kinds of social intercourse. If talk feels threatening for any reason I can change the subject and hopefully the new ground will be safer.

And eventually we will all be left alone.

And maybe I should just get over it.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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