24 July 2011

relational paranoia

I know that I write quite a bit about not being self-conscious, touting its advantages and preaching self-confidence. But, writing about that got me thinking about times when I feel self-conscious, and, conversely, times when I do not feel self-conscious. My brain is a vicious chocolate and vanilla swirl.

I can tell when a relationship is successful by the frequency with which I don’t feel self-conscious. That statement is in no way revolutionary. But I know that we’re solid when we can be in complete silence and it’s not weird. In fact, as horrible as it sounds, some of the best times I’ve had with my friends are when we’re not talking at all. You should know that you mean a lot to me if I like to simply be with you.

But then I got to thinking again. What if I had completely misinterpreted all those interactions? What if what I considered blissfully quiet car rides and relaxing afternoons were actually horribly awkward experiences for the other party? While I was perfectly content, the other person may have been suffering in silence, struggling to break the tension I failed to notice. Now I’m the asshole who stared out the window the whole way to the restaurant. I’m the creeper sitting on the floor with her nose in a book. Great.

The risk of misinterpretation extends beyond physical encounters. As some of you may know, the easiest way to communicate with me is through text. They are called CrackBerries for a reason; mine never leaves my side. Although texting is convenient, I can’t help but worry about each one I send. Funnily enough, my biggest challenge is punctuation. The irony of a prospective writer tormented by punctuation does not escape me.

If I am excited about my response, I will include an exclamation point. But, the more I include, the more disingenuous (or creepy) my message comes across. Likewise emoticons. “Hi!” “I’m so excited to see you again!” “That was so much fun!” :] :] :D

In addition, I don’t like texting fragments, so most of my messages are punctuated with commas, periods, and even the occasional semicolon. I know that the inclusion of these punctuation marks makes even the most casual text seem formal, but I can’t break myself of the habit. A dangling text makes me uncomfortable.

The trouble is, someone who is not familiar with the way in which I speak and write might misinterpret my messages as stuffy or even standoffish, of which I am neither. I’ve tried combating this problem by omitting capital letters, but I’m not sure about the degree to which I’ve been successful. I’m concerned that my texting looks more disjointed than ever. Or like I have issues with typing like an adult.

Of course, there’s a definite possibility that I’m overthinking the situation, as usual. Maybe no one else dissects every social interaction like me. And if I've made you feel uncomfortable in any way, I'm really sorry. I understand.


Post a Comment