I’ve had a problem that has plagued me for the majority of my life. It has affected my personal relationships, my work and schooling and created major annoyances for me and for people around me. It’s also been going on for as long as I can remember.
I’m a fast talker.
No, seriously, I mean a REALLY FAST TALKER. To the extent that my throat and mouth get tired more often than I’d like to admit. To where my teacher in my public speaking class had to specifically work with me in order to get me to slow down. To where people start staring at me in a way that is slightly disconcerting when they first meet me. I can actually see their brains attempt to catch up. I’m not the Micro Machines man, but sometimes, I’m close. (and WOW did I just date myself with that little reference. But really, how often otherwise do you generally encounter a fast talker?)
I’ve known this about myself for a long time. I know it gets worse when I get excited about something (and then also add LOUD into the equation during these circumstances). I have to keep an eye out for the glazed over look that comes over people when they just can’t keep up with me anymore. But see, I just don’t get it! I can’t possibly speak THAT fast. People just need to listen faster! I’ve come to the conclusion that I started speaking quicker because there’s so much going on in my head at any given time, I need to talk faster to get it all out. And I must get it out because there are just too many important things to discuss that I contemplate each day. If only people would realise, I’m not talking fast for my OWN benefit, but for THEIRS. This is important information that I am bestowing on you people! Listen faster!
As you can imagine, most people don’t want to bother with all that. My last boyfriend worked away from home every other month so a large portion of our relationship was conducted by telephone. I’m almost completely certain that he couldn’t understand a single thing I said on the phone. I’d talk too fast for him to keep up, plus the connections aren’t great when he was working abroad. We dated for just under a year, that’s six months of conversations that he couldn’t even keep up with! Which might explain how we managed to last for so long with almost nothing in common.
My big problem is that I’m just not aware of when I’m speaking fast. Even when I AM aware of it and attempt to speak more slowly, clearly it doesn’t work. I once accidentally listened to my voicemail message (entirely by accident because seriously, who actually likes the sound of their own voice?). When I’d recorded it I thought that I’d been speaking very slowly and clearly. When I listened to it I thought, how in the world can I STILL be speaking too fast?! I had a client today come into the office when I was on duty and he wasn’t a native English speaker. I knew that it’d be hard for him to understand me anyway, so I made a very conscious effort to speak slowly and clearly. I assisted him with his housing forms and talked to him for awhile about his different options. After I’d helped him out (secretly thinking to myself how well I’d handled that!) he asked me where I was from, because I don’t sound like the other social workers. I said, well, I’m not Scottish, I’m American. He nodded and agreed that I sounded different. Yes I know, I said, my accent is a bit strange. No, he said, that’s not it. You talk very fast.
I guess there’s really just nothing for it. I think fast and type fast and I talk fast. Lots of information to get across, only a very short time to do it in! Just as a warning to any of you who may run across me in real life at any point. I’m warning you now, it may take some time to adjust.