January 22, 2009

It's a dangerous business, going out your door.

I was reading a book about html coding (fascinating, I know) and it had a little chapter about learning theory. It explained why most people's brains shut down when reading about things like html coding. It's a survival mechanism. A person only has so much brain power, and if you aren't looking at something that might kill you, you're going to have a hard time getting your brain to care. You don't want to be so absorbed in how to hyperlink that you don't notice a tiger approaching. Not understanding css style sheets is only going to make your website ugly. Not running away from a tiger is going to make you dead. The brain usually knows what it's doing.

I was thinking about this as I experienced yet another awkward embarrassing life moment. I'm not going to give the details, because I'm too easily embarrassed by boring normal things. When I was 5, I ran home crying from the bus stop because someone on the bus looked at me and said "hey, kid." I've improved in the last 21 years, but my awkwardness threshold is still much lower than most people's. When I'm embarrassed, or feel socially awkward, my brain reacts as if it's in mortal danger. Now, I've never been in actual mortal danger so I don't really know how I'd react to it. (I can only hope it would involve the discovery of latent super powers.) But after the most recent awkward embarrassing life moment, I realized that for some reason, my brain puts mild social awkwardness pretty high up on the mortal danger scale. What happened to my brain to make it feel so threatened at the first sign of blushing?

I'm sure part of it comes from my parents. One of my dad's most embarrassing moments was being in a restaurant when I spit up all over myself. I was a baby. I'm sure everyone in that restaurant was just horrified that a baby spit up. One of my mom's most embarrassing moments was when Carly yelled "shit!" in a department store. Carly was four. Good thing mom doesn't go shopping with the 23-year-old Carly. (Non-stop cursing. I think she has a problem.) But I'm sure most of it is just me. Some people are just born shy. I guess I should feel lucky that I live in a time and place where my brain doesn't have to worry about tigers so much. It can focus it's energy on freaking out when Jill and I get that cute waiter assigned to our table again. I just wish I had better luck training it to focus on html coding.


Deja said...

Oh wow I love the story about you running home crying because someone said hey kid. There are days that's enough to send me over the edge. Today, in fact ...

Jillyan said...

Good thing mom doesn't go shopping with the 23-year-old Carly.