Thursday, September 16, 2010

Speaking in Code

Ever felt like other people were talking in a way that just wasn't understandable?

I mean, you can understand them, they're using all the right words, you just have the sneaking suspicion that there's a meaning somewhere that you're missing. Like they're using a code.

I bet you have.

As a matter of fact, most people complain about it all the time. It's the primary grounds for miscommunications between the sexes. It's the reason why half the time we don't do our homework right, or fail to get it in on time. It's the explanation for most of the tension between parents and kids.

"They just don't make any sense!"

Well, actually they do. Just not to everyone else. I had an experience like that today. I was having a conversation with my friend, and we suddenly, silently, subtly slipped into a coded conversation. I knew the content wasn't mean-spirited or hostile, but for some reason I was speaking a different language than my friend. It took me a while to realize this, but when I did, I came to understand a couple of other significant things about myself.

Most humans hear codes, and guess. Think about it: how many guys or girls would have girl/boyfriends if they didn't just say to themselves, "Ya know, I have no clue what s/he means by that, but gosh, s/he's cute, so I'll just pretend I do, and it'll all work out"? Relationships would be few and far between. They might be more successful, too, on average, but there sure wouldn't be as many.

Not too many people have the patience to sit down and decode. A lot of that has to do, I think, with the fact that in order to decipher another person's code, you need the other person. Plus they have to be willing. Plus they have to have enough of a basic level of articulation about themselves and their own thoughts and feelings that they can even decipher their own code. Plus you have to have both of those things as well. Plus you both have to like each other, and be lucky along with the rest of it.

Unfortunately, I have to understand the codes.

It's one of my chief insecurities: knowledge is power. If I don't know, and it's important to me, I will find out, eventually. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it, apologize, and then find out what the answer is so I'm never wrong about that again. I have a very, very hard time being comfortable with not understanding and not caring whether I do or not. As such, my immediate reaction, when confronted with these innumerable behavioral and conversational "codes," is the desire to sit down and...decode!

This sucks for me for a few reasons. First and foremost, it endangers many of my relationships right off the bat. What girl wants to date a guy who a) moves slower than cold molasses because he wants to "understand" things, b) actually attempts to sit down and interpret her feelings, and c) eventually snuffs out any mystery in the relationship because he already knows what she's thinking?! Not many, that's how many. Secondly, if I'm caught off guard, and someone that I think I've "decoded" suddenly gets a new code I've never seen before, it throws me for a loop. I don't know how to react. And since I've never developed the ability to "guess" like every other human, I run away. It takes a really kind person to follow me and figure out what's up after that.

Codes are a part of life. I enjoy figuring them out, usually. But sometimes, they become a very dangerous thing. I hope I can learn how to deal with them better, before I accidentally misread something, get skittish, and/or lose someone important.

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