“Every whisper, of every waking hour, I am choosing my confessions.” – R.E.M. Losing My Religion
Do you usually find that you have said too much, or do you find that you have not said enough? I used to say very little, even though I spoke a lot - a habit I designed to pacify people, a method I see a lot of people use, without knowing that they are doing such a thing. Unfortunately, although this makes me calculative and sly in other people’s eyes, just because I am aware of the things that I do, does it mean that I am guiltier than those who do the same things without knowing? I don’t think so in my opinion, because whether aware, or unaware, the same act is being performed, and therefore the same results are being reaped. I comfort myself by saying that at least I am the master of my actions, whereas the unconscious few are slaves to theirs.
Since then, saying too little turned out to be a bad servant, and so I ventured to strike a balance, by trying to edge myself closer to the other side of the spectrum, and even if this is also a conscious decision, it is very hard to teach this old dog new tricks and so the effort so say, not too much, but enough, has been an interesting road of trial and error. I find that I have said too much at times, when in reality I have not said as much as I think I have. It feels like I have spoken to last me a life time only due to the fact that I am not used to communicating sufficiently - but it must be done if I plan to be who I desire to be.
What many people may not know is that I am not a verbal person much. I am the type that prefers to listen to people, to nod and smile instead because I really don’t have much to say to people generally, but I realized that I can’t get away with that because people require responses. This is what I see, and not what I know for sure. Therefore speaking is a conscious move for me, and not a knee jerk reaction. When there is a need to speak, and when it is really the last resort, I speak – or when I am nervous to give the impression of being comfortable because the world has it in their heads that a person who speaks confidently is confident. I wonder where they get that from.
I used to be a painfully shy kid, and when I say “painfully” I speak of excruciating pain and mortification at the thought of hearing my own voice. Also, as a child, I used to stutter a little because I spoke so fast, and it was a direct result of my mouth trying to catch up with my mind, a race my tongue never won. But, when I learned English, a language I learned when I was nine years old, or just about, I taught myself to speak slower so as not to mix my words up as I did my mother tongue, Zulu. This proved to work, and I overcame a challenge of slight speech impairment. As far as Zulu is concerned, I still sound like a total idiot speaking it. 'Sad really, although I speak it so well in my mind.
Then another problem came about and that was the requirement that was impressed upon me to speak in order to be successful. At school, one of the requirements to be a good student was to be proficient in English, and secondly, to be proficient in speaking it, and so there were a lot of graded oral exercises that one had to do. I remember one day just becoming sick and tired of being rendered into a panic every time I was required to speak. I remember hating the fact that when I did my oral presentation, my voice constricted and that my nerves were clearly seen, and how this affected my entire presentation which made it less enjoyable to those who listened, but worse than that, which gave me a lesser mark than that which I desired.
From that I made a conscious decision to be a great speaker, to be charismatic, to be more engaging and entertaining when speaking, tiring but oh, so effective. I also made it a point to try and enjoy this speaking thing, even though I didn’t find it entirely natural to me. Did this make me inauthentic then, since it was a conscious decision, and I can even go as far as asking, does it make me worse than others that I “acted” as if I enjoyed speaking? Does it make me bad that I chose to adapt and do things I didn’t enjoy in order to achieve my desires? I think not, but I am not too judgmental generally, even to myself so my opinion is none too reliable.
So, I didn’t say enough physically, and when I decided to speak a lot more, the “not saying much” thing still remained. Instead I just gave the impression that I said a lot, to get people off my back. People bought it! That was that. Just to show how little I spoke, most things that I am today, the things that I do or have done have confused many people because I seem to be unlike the person they thought I was. An example is that many people didn’t even know that I had an interest in music, or that who I now say I am, is really who I am, not that person I had to be when I was younger.
People forget that when we are young, the people we are is usually an impression imposed upon us by those who came before us, our parents mostly. They make decisions on our behalf, thinking that these are the decisions that are best for us, not realizing that it wasn’t their decision to make – even though these decisions were probably done for our benefit in their opinion. Then, when we are old enough, we make corrections to that imposition, with the hopes that those who love us still love us, because things of the world like names, body shapes, career paths and even sexual orientations merely help us express who we are; they do not define who we are because we are so much more than that. The person still remains as who they are when they have changed their names through marriage, when they have performed plastic surgery to change their looks, when they change their career path and when they decide to let the world know that they are gay. That’s what I mean.
I am sitting here, thinking back and I could complain again about how I actually knew so many people, who they really were, their essences and not necessarily the incidences that occurred in their lives, whereas not many people knew my essence – but I find no reason to complain about such because I chose to see people, and just because they chose not to see me, isn’t really a bad thing as I have chosen not to see many people also. I will not complain about it because I see the blessing of being invisible and I am grateful for it.
The blessing of not being seen gave me the opportunity to see myself. Mind you, a lot of people would think I am talking rubbish because I was and still am fairly well known around my peers and community. But what people saw was not who I am, so this is just as good as not being seen, and I have no illusions of such. No, the blessing of being invisible gave me the opportunity to see myself and gave me enough time to like myself. Being aware of that fact that the person who people knew was a lie (a lie created by life, not a lie I fabricated) made it easier for me to live my truth so diligently. This is because all those moments of feeling solitary amongst hordes of people, gave me time to think, reflect and know myself enough to be who I am, which is who I chose to be.
I am not the most wonderful person out there. In fact I am pretty average, but I know and like myself a lot. I may not have done or achieved much in worldly terms (or maybe people think I have, but how I view myself is different from how I’m viewed by others), but I am incredibly proud of myself for the choices I have made, for the paths that I have walked, for the life that I have lived thus far. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t wish I was anybody else but me, and god, it feels good to say that and mean it! When I am left on my own, I am gladly in my own company because I am with the best person I know, and I do really know myself. This is probably behind the reason why I can be (and am) a loner, because I am highly comfortable with myself (but then, people do make me incredibly nervous with their rough hands, narrow minds and their cold hearts, so maybe that’s why I prefer to be by myself with the exception of a handful people who are of like minds, whose company I really enjoy).
I must have been born this way, knowing that saying too much wouldn’t serve my purpose, or maybe I learned very early that people can’t handle my truth. I say so, because I have tried to be truthful, and mostly it has been responded to with a slap across the face. Maybe it is because talking is such a hassle; that it is best to act, do and be than to talk about things generally. I don’t know which happened, but what resulted was that I became one who chose one’s words very carefully. I am truly as calculative as that, but not calculative in a negatively connotative way. I am not evil. No one really is, but some are more than others. Believe it or not, and maybe I am making excuses, but I speak very little to save a lot of people grief because I am very overwhelming once I do speak. It used to freak me out how when I was young, people came to me for advise, as in all the kids at school came to me to ask advise about their problems, PETTY PROBLEMS too! Whereas, when I had problems, I had no one to speak to amongst them. Although I was glad to help, this drained me. So, I decided to shut myself up and distance myself due to that. On a negative side, when I was angry, I made a lot of kids cry just by speaking. If that wasn’t clue enough that I needed to think first before I spoke, I dunno what was!
*Just to mention, some might say that I didn’t give people a chance by not speaking to them about myself, and that maybe people would have responded positively and would have given me comfort or support, as I did for them, only if I tried speaking to them. Well, dears, I don’t make such statements without actual experience and proof. I did try to speak to some people but they gave no comfort. Instead, I ended up comforting them after they started crying when I opened up to them. Or, they ended up being freaked out, which I really can’t stand! So, the few people I speak to now are people who can really handle me because I am not lighthearted.*
So, while listening to some R.E.M today, and when I heard the line, “Oh no, I’ve said too much; I haven’t said enough”, I realized that the only thing I should ever be accused of, is having said too little; that those who say that I have said too much lack perception and intuition to know that what I have said is hot air, or that what I have said is only the tip of the iceberg. Of course, there are a handful of people that I do allow myself to say whatever I desire, but they are really far and few between. I really am an acquired taste.
How I speak to people generally is through my music (which allows the right space between me and another to communicate because it is not as overwhelming as I am when I am looking at you in the eyes and pouring my energy into a person). Seriously, only a few can survive that. Words are never enough, and music is the only thing that comes close to expressing my feelings and thoughts in this realm. Second is the written word, which I discovered years ago to be the most effective way I can communicate because verbal “words don’t come easy to me”, and also, reading my words is lighter than listening to me when I am engaged fully into a person, which is heavy. And, since I started writing my thoughts down, I realized that I could speak after all - and more amusingly, I realized that I knew more words than I had previously thought because I have read back to my old journals and saw words that I never used and wondered what the heck I had been smoking that day to come up with such. I am just glad that I have found tools to assist me be more of who I am, that being, writing and music. I call these tools “therapy” because I would have seriously killed myself long time ago without these tools since there is so much intensity and energy inside that needs to be let out, which would have imploded within otherwise.
I then wonder, do you say too much, or do you never say enough? If you say too much, do you say things of substance or do you just spew out a meringue? If you never say enough, is it because you lacked a tool through which to express yourself, as I once did, or are you fearful to overwhelm and scare others as I do? If it is the last, take it from me – your fears are probably justified, but there usually is that one person (or four) with whom you can be yourself in totality. The mission is to find them and take care of them so that you can keep them because they are rare.
I hope that we could all just say enough, and not too much or too little.
Happy Mid-Week Y’all,
Veronnica Wolpendz is in love with you! (Oh, yes I am.)