It happens during arguments and job interviews, telephone conversations with scary people and, god forbid, presentations (yuk.) The words I’m trying to say just don’t come out. Some kind of connectivity error happens between my brain and my mouth which makes the words that I do say come out in an embarrassingly jumbled up fashion. Or even worse, different words come out instead, like ‘porno’ instead of ‘protocol.’ Ok, I embellished a bit there because I would never ever say protocol, but you can catch my drift.
Historically I’ve been very good at getting my point across by writing it down. I have a fairly wide vocabulary thanks to having a Mum as an English teacher and I can structure an argument or an essay pretty well, on paper. When it comes to actually saying it out loud whilst people are looking at me and judging me with their judgy eyes on my abilities it’s wholly different. It’s as if my brain goes on holiday when under pressure, or it shuts down completely as an avoidance method like a malfunctioning Furby (do they still make them?)
Whenever I have been anxious to have a phone call with someone (like when I had to speak to Mariah Carey’s irate publicist) I would write bullet points of exactly what I needed to say in case my mind shat on me. Or if I have an argument with someone I’ll write down everything that I forgot to say in the heat of the moment and then give it to them afterwards because my mind will have melted two seconds into said confrontation and I would have probably said ‘lemurs love liars lying’ instead of ‘but you’re a liar.’
This, as you may well imagine, is all thoroughly frustrating. Kate Nash said “not being able to articulate things that I want to say drives me crazy” and I’m glad that at least one person in the public eye (kind of) has this problem and has said it.
I feel like this scene from Twin Peaks whenever I’m in a job interview. I’d be the guy in the red suit but with a different face which would be much redder and there wouldn’t be subtitles.
It’s funny because I come from a family who talk. As kids me and my Brother were encouraged to talk at the dinner table and we didn’t have a telly because my Dad wanted us to talk to each other about our days at school and what we thought of Tony Blair. So why I’m a complete shit storm in interviews I have no idea. Hold on, yes I do, it’s ANXIETY. That old chestnut. My anxiety is the reason I didn’t get the job at River Island when I was 16, and it’s definitely why I didn’t get the job at BBC Radio 1Xtra. They had asked me to describe a time I had handled a difficult situation (which is every day when you have anxiety) and I made up a story about something to do with burgers. Don’t ask me why, my brain left the room and hurled a completely weird story at them on its way out. Highly embarrassing, yes, and rather suicidal to ones career.
According to the internet it’s not only me and Kate Nash who have this foible. Ellen has it too. I need one of those machines please.
They say that you can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, so really you shouldn’t judge a person on their ability to perform in job interviews when they’re really more of a writer. I’d much rather sit an exam, or at least have that as an option. So next time I have an interview, and they ask me about a time that I’ve handled a difficult situation, it’s probably best that I show them Ellen’s clip, and this blog post, and then leave. At least its better than a story about burgers.