I talk to myself all the time. Sometimes I get caught, and it embarrasses me. But over the years, the habit has served its purpose.
I know I look ridiculous when I do it. Maybe I even look a little crazy, though much less so since the invention of the Bluetooth ear device. One morning in New York City, I was walking down a street chuckling over all the people with Bluetooth devices in their ears, looking dead ahead while flapping their lips.
“I’m cooler than they are,” I thought to myself. “I don’t need a funny-looking thing in my ear to talk to myself.”
I’m the type who will talk to myself loudly while walking around in public. I’ve gotten stared at plenty of times for that. I’ve also been known to read news articles back aloud to myself, whether they’re articles I wrote or was editing.
Past colleagues have gone nuts over the habit, especially the editors I worked with at The Eagle-Tribune.
What do I talk to myself about? Usually I’m planning all the things I have to do during the day ahead. Or, after work, I’ll list all the important tasks I took care of that day. Back when my OCD, fear, anxiety and depression burned out of control I would talk aloud to myself about all kinds of worries. Those conversations would go in endless circles and wipe me out.
I know I look like the crazy guy on the street when I do this. But I can’t help myself.
But it’s better than it used to be.
For one thing, I don’t read stories I’m writing or editing back to myself aloud anymore. I did that because I lacked confidence in my writing and editing abilities, and was terrified of turning in work that was less than perfect. I still turned in a lot of crap, so in hindsight I wasted a lot of time.
Now I read it back silently with metal music blaring in my headphones. It’s a lot more fun that way.
People who talk to themselves are usually considered crazy. I think of Crazy Mike of Haverhill and a lot of characters I used to know in Revere. But they are usually harmless. They’re so wrapped up in the conversations they have with themselves that they don’t notice the people around them. They’ve never bothered me. I do feel for them, because I’m sure some of it is loneliness. No one else will talk to them. It’s tragic, really.
I’ve always been more fortunate. Even when I’ve weirded people out, they still talk to me.
As annoying as it can be to others, I think talking to yourself is actually one of the sanest things you can do. It can be painful when taken to excess. I speak from experience. But it’s also a good way to clear the mind of cluttering thoughts.
It’s like everything else in my OCD-infested world. I’m forever trying to figure out how much is too much or just enough to keep my brain working.
If that means I’m still crazy, so be it. I’m in good company, at least.