I want to write down some thoughts about being semi-verbal. I’m sure that many people close to me would balk to hear that, but SURPRISE! I’m naturally a semi-verbal person. I hate talking to most people. I prefer not to do it. I’m not usually bad at it–in fact, people tell me all the time that I’m well-spoken or eloquent. The effort it takes, however, is tremendous. This is why:
When I talk to most people, I have to go through several burdensome processes to participate in conversation. I have to process what they’re saying which is often very difficult. Then, I have to formulate a response and modulate it to be appropriate to the context. Everyone does that! you say. Yes, of course they do, to some extent. But my natural mode of speaking, as Mr. V and the few other people with whom I talk without these filters will attest, is very different from how I talk out in the world. I’m excitable, logorrheic and often abrasive. I repeat myself a lot and I will go on and on about something without noticing the interest level of the other party or, sometimes, letting them get a word in. Stereotypically speaking, the way I naturally talk is pretty autistic.
OK, so if you’re so talkative, how can you say you’re semi-verbal? Because I’m only like that with people very close to me. People I trust implicitly and who are fairly tolerant of my quirks. What it comes down to is that talking to most people is anxious, tiring business and I simply prefer not to do it. Under the best circumstances, I can do it convincingly well. (I can seem totally NT.) In others, it takes me forever to respond to things, I can’t get words out, I get worked up and frustrated or I say bizarre things that I may not mean. When I’m very emotional, I sometimes can’t do it at all.
In education, I obviously have to talk a lot to people I don’t know very well. I have to respond to very random questions and comments. I have to endure all manner of small talk and decipher a lot of weird neurotypical mannerisms and speech patterns. It’s exhausting. Part of me can’t wait to get out of K-12 just to be able to spend less time navigating verbal communication. Most fields involve some degree of speech, but there are definitely more opportunities to be freely semi-verbal in some than in others.
Outside of work, I’m trying to allow myself to be less verbal. To not engage in social or speech-related endeavours when I don’t feel up to (or interested in) them. It’s one of a few of my autistic things that I’m trying to let into my life. That’s all making a big dent in my anxiety and emotional fatigue, so yay for that!