I had to learn the hard way that having to repeat myself is one of the things I detest the most. For a couple of decades since then I had thought the loathing of repeating myself was just an “ornery” trait of mine, but I’ve become more aware that it is a trait shared by many introverts.
When I was in my 20s, I had to leave a job and a city I loved in order to move with my new husband to this city where he had found a job. Since I have a good science background, and since there is an optometry school here, I decided to pursue a career as an optometrist. All I knew was, I was smart and wanted to have a good career related to science. It never occurred to me to think about anything as “fluffy” as personality. The first year of optometry school was hard but awesome. I excelled in optics and biochemistry. But then came the second year. My classmates were all so thrilled to wear their white coats and practice the lengthy eye exams on each other! I hated it all. What was wrong with them? Were they like kids playing in their parents’ high heels or shirts and ties? For the first few months of my second year I dragged myself in there each day and would force the words from my mouth, multiple times a day. “Hello Mrs. Jones. And what seems to be the problem today?…Anyone in your family have heart disease?….Put your chin right here and your forehead against the bar..” But somehow during Christmas break I became so full of dread at going back that I had a heart to heart with my husband. I did not think I could stand to go through that exam eight or more times a day for the rest of my life. I longed to get back into the laboratory, where I could work with my mouth closed, sometimes saying something cheerful to a nearby coworker, of course, but mainly just working and not repeating myself. I withdrew from optometry school, to the great surprise of the dean, and I went back to lab work. Later I started working out of the lab and more toward programming and databases, so these days I’m in IT.
My hatred of repeating myself is really pronounced when I’m tired. When I have my mother over to stay with me a few days, I always give her my bedroom, which is the master bedroom. She is quite elderly and has fragile bones, so I want her to have a really easy trip to and from the bathroom during the night. I have a sofa bed in the den which I sleep on when she’s here. But each time she visits, she feels obliged to object to the arrangement and say that she hates to take my bedroom and that she can sleep in the den. And the first couple of times, I went through all the, “No, I sleep just fine, really. No, I want you to be safe..” All that. But by the third night of the third visit, I was bone weary from all of the activities and change in my routine and I just managed to say in a low and exhausted voice, “It’s fine. Please don’t make me repeat myself.” I’m sure she did not understand what the hell is wrong with me 🙂 but she said, “OK,” and she has refrained from making me go through that routine any more.
I’m fortunate that I’m rarely called upon to repeat myself at work or at home, but there’s one group of people who still do it, and they always earn my utter contempt. It’s the people who are trying to sell me something. The typical phone call or walk up is them making their pitch, then me saying politely no thank you. I might even offer a reasonable reason so as not to sound so rejecting! It’s when they start to argue that I suddenly feel as if my very intelligence has been insulted, and I am extremely annoyed. “But ma’am!…” they’ll say. All I can do at that point is hang up if it’s a phone solicitor, or walk away if it’s in person. Whatever I said, that was my final answer!
Don’t make me repeat myself!
Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt