I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how tbi has messed up my ability to assess situations. From tests in school to social situations to job situations, I’ve often found myself quite unpleasantly surprised by outcomes that I was sure would turn out in my favor. On tests in school, particularly, my ability to tell whether or not I did well has been sharply curtailed.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in a testing situation and thought I did GREAT… only to find out that I performed about average. Sometimes even worse than average. And I ended up feeling like a bigger idiot than I looked like on paper.
What a bummer.
In social situations, I’ve often felt like I was saying something that was either clever or engaging or socially appealing… only to find people looking at me like I had two heads, or backing away (literally or figuratively). This has gotten better in the past years, since I started seeing my neuropsych. There’s something about sitting in a room with someone regularly, knowing they’re not going to laugh at me or make fun of me or ridicule me or ostracize me, that lets me loosen up and just be — and also practice interacting with another person in a meaningful way.
At work, I’ve often thought I hit a home run, only to find that I’ve missed a critical piece of information. That’s a real problem. Or, I thought I was good with my scheduling, only to find out I was two weeks behind. Also a problem.
All these things seem to get better or worse with me at unexpected times. I’ll think I’m doing great, then WHAM, I get smacked upside the head with obvious evidence to the contrary. It’s a little daunting at times. But I can’t let it stop me from taking chances and living my life.
The thing is, though, that I’ve learned over the years to notice the times when I’m 100% confident of something — so confident, I’d stake my life savings on it (not so much money, these days, but you get my point). At those times, I find it’s when my judgment is most clouded, and there’s the greatest chance that I’m just NOT getting what I think I am. And I need to stop, back up, and reconsider doing or saying what I was about to do or say.
I have a bunch of great examples — the time when I was convinced I needed to go for a walk in the woods during deer hunting season, wearing neutral colors and following a deer path, instead of the main trail… or the time when I got stopped by a copy for running a stop sign, then (after they gave me a warning, not a citation), I proceeded to jump out of my car and run over and start yelling at them because I didn’t feel like they were very respectful of me and they treated me like a common criminal… or the time when I decided it made good sense to take a job I couldn’t really do, for about 20% less annual salary than I could live on.
Had I stopped and thought about those things with more clarity, instead of going with my overwhelming impulse, I could have saved myself much trouble — and avoided the close calls I had.
On the one hand, slowing things down feels really restrictive. I don’t want to slow down! I want to charge full speed ahead, with every fiber of my confident being! On the other hand, it just makes good sense to take a considered approach. Obviously, there are times when I can’t hesitate, or I’ll be lost. But at other times, when I have a little while to reconsider what I’m doing, it often makes perfect sense to do just that — hold off a minute or two, give it a little bit, and then reconsider what I’m about to do and say.
Live and learn. Live and learn.