I have a confession to make. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this to anyone before, but I’m going to do it here. Are you ready?
I talk to myself.
No, I don’t mean I mumble under my breath from time to time.
And I’m not referring to the daily outbursts in the car when someone pulls out in front of me. What I mean is:
I have conversations with myself—out loud.
I haven’t officially been diagnosed with a disorder, and it isn’t clear if talking to yourself even qualifies as one. But if you ask me, I’m perfectly sane.
I can’t remember exactly how or when it started, but when I was a kid—just eight or nine years old—I remember recreating scenes from my favorite TV shows, which included taking an active role in the dialog. I went back and forth, speaking the lines of my character while hearing the rest of the parts in my head.
I know it isn’t uncommon for a kid to have an imaginary friend or even talk to them. But my conversations didn’t end with childhood.
Eventually, it became second nature; I did it without thinking about it. Anytime I had a problem or a decision to make, or if there was something I was trying to work through, I called a conference with Me, Myself, and I.
Of course, I was careful not to do it in public because, like most of us, I worried about what people thought of me. But just because I tried to be careful didn’t mean I was always successful.
Excuse me, did you say something?
Once, when I was about sixteen years old, I was at the mall visiting one of my favorite clothing stores. I saw a shirt that looked interesting and thought about buying it. As always, before making any big decisions (trust me, when I was sixteen, dropping twenty-five dollars on a shirt was a big decision), I decided to think it through.
Would it look better in black or white? Was I going to wear it with just jeans or those cool white pants I had (in the 1980s, it was cool for a guy to wear white pants, folks).
That’s when I heard a voice behind me say, “Excuse me, did you say something?”
I turned around and saw the clerk standing there with a look on her face that could only be described as a combination of is that guy talking to himself? and oh my God, what a freak!
Apparently, at least some of my inner monologue had become outer monologue, but I had no idea which part. So, doing my best to keep calm and play it off, I looked her square in the eye and lied.
“Yes, I did. Do you have this in an extra-small?”
An awkward situation became even more weird because there was no chance I could fit into anything smaller than a medium. And I knew the size of the shirt wasn’t part of my internal—or external—conversation because I already knew what size I wore. But being the professional, she kept her cool, told me she would go and check, and walked away.
That’s when I realized the quirky conversations with myself could create some serious social challenges if I didn’t get it under control. And it didn’t just happen in the store when I was trying to decide what shirt to buy. Many times, while stopped at an intersection, I would look over to see puzzled looks on the faces of people in the cars next to me as I talked to my invisible passenger. Believe me when I tell you that the invention of Bluetooth was one of the happiest times in my life.
A Conference with Yours Truly
Maybe everyone reading this has had a conversation with themselves before, but you keep it inside your head. It’s a natural process to imagine two sides of a conversation. But for me, instead of just hearing it, I speak one side and listen to the other. I know, that’s weird, but this is a blog about weird and if I can’t talk about it here, then where?
Others may think it’s strange, but I say it’s completely normal. I don’t talk to myself because I don’t have any friends, but because it’s how I process thoughts.
When it’s decision time, I call a conference with Yours Truly. I decided where to go to college, which job to take when I graduated, to start my business and even decided to get engaged to my current wife, all while talking it out with the voice in my head.
Me, Myself and I faced the tough times too. I remember being frustrated and depressed in my twenties, and worked through it all by having conversations with myself. There were times I struggled in my career, had relationship problems and felt alone with no idea where I was going next. I talked myself through it in my alone time.
I remember feeling hopeless at 40 years old, thinking that I would never recover from the mess I was in, but kept my sanity by talking it out with Me.
I believe in God and can’t help but wonder if that other voice in my head is really him sometimes. But whether it’s God helping me work through things, or just me—or a combination of the two—having those conversations with myself helped me figure things out when I didn’t know any other way. And it’s helped me in a few other ways, too.
I’ve learned to see both sides of the coin, to analyze my options carefully, and to keep perspective. Above all, it has given me a sense that I’m not alone.
I’m not saying you should start talking to yourself, but if you’re thinking about it, here’s an article that says it’s actually a good thing. And if you already enjoy some good alone-time discussion, please leave a comment and let me know. I’d feel much better knowing I’m not the only one.
Either way, you should pay attention to that other voice in your head. It may know more than you think it does.
More On Chris
Chris Fulmer became a writer after spending two decades in life’s desert and the jungles of corporate America. Now, he uses his passion for writing to tell people what he learned the hard way, hoping they don’t have to. You can read all about it by visiting his blog, The Desert Walker.
Chris and his wife Kelly live in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where they share their home with a Boston Terrier named Ruby.