It happens to all of us in some form or another. Our reactions, however, may be very different.
You meet someone brand new and they introduce their self using a first (and sometimes) last name. You strike up a nice conversation about something you enjoy, maybe music or movies. A week or even a few days go by and you run into this person again, only you have no clue what their name is or what letter of the alphabet it started with. Panic sets in which leads to coming up with crafty ways to get them to say their name again so you can look like you remember. Or perhaps you ask them for their number at which point you play dumb and ask them how they spell their name. "It's Matt...", he replies. "My name is Matt". Dumbfounded, you put your tail between your legs because you've been caught! Sound familiar at all? Not all people react this way or even give something so simple as someone's name much thought. But why is it that names are so difficult for many to remember?
I tend to be open and honest when reintroducing myself by saying something like "You're going to have to forgive me, what's your name again?", which then I follow it up by saying my name as well so they can remember if they have forgotten mine. I've been known to ask people more than 2 or 3 times what their name is. Some get frustrated, some laugh it off, and some even are offended that I didn't remember them! I love psychology and analyzing things like this, which is why I'm writing a blog about it. I have a few theories as to why this happens, the first being that names are a useless means of information for the brain.
A name is useless data for the brain. Unless your specific brain has come across someone or something associated with a familiar name once before, chances are you won't remember it.
The name James ranks number 1 in the USA with over 5.3 million males with the name. Take a moment right now to think about 1 person whom you know to have the name James. Now, if you were to run into a brand-new face and their name happens to be James, you will most likely connect and associate them to someone or something with whom/which you have already had a connection, whether you're aware of it or not. James is a book in the bible, is used in "James and the Giant Peach", a song by Billy Joel, and is also the name of many actors, performers, and musicians. So it's more likely that a name like James won't escape your brain since there is a wide variety from which your brain can pull from like past experiences, prior knowledge, things/people in culture and society and other associations.
"Boran" on the other hand is one of the least commonly used names in the USA, ranking fewer than 1,700 people and is statistically the 49,057th most popular first name. I will have some trouble remembering a name like that if I were to ever come across someone named Boran, although, now it should be easier for me personally since I am using his/her name in this blog post! "Hi, my name is Boran", they said. "Great! I wrote a blog about you"... now I've made the mental connection to his/her name. There is one Chinese singer named Jing Boran, and the name is also synonyms with Boran cattle. Okay, I admit, I had to do a google search to figure out someone named Boran. It will take me quite a while to learn a name I'm not familiar with if I've never heard of it before.
The fact is that it's not our fault nor should we try to play a game to avoid an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation like this. It's understandable as it's part of our biology and wiring as human beings. Some people can remember names quite easily and some have more difficulty. Where ever you fall on the spectrum, just remember that it's okay to not know. I taught high school for 1 year, and by graduation day, I STILL didn't know all of my students names, and I had 55 of them to remember.
I'll leave you with this short, yet comical video from "The Office" (I apologize for the poor quality)...
Statistics in this blog were found using the USA Census and www.howmanyofme.com
"Now goes quickly. See, now it's past!" - Stephen Sondheim
One of the most difficult things I try to practice each day is living in the "NOW". I am a thinker and find that I spend way too much of my day-to-day life just thinking and questioning everything. What do I do with my future? What and how much I'm eating? How is the way I live related to how I was raised? Is there going to be an "ah-ha!" moment when I finally get it? Where do babies come from? Why is the sky blue?... Okay, those last two were just for fun... or were they? (SEE!)...
I'm quite sure there are other people who, whether consciously or unconsciously, have this ongoing dialogue in their brain. How do you stop the constant conversations and not feel like you need to find answers to questions that just will never have a concrete solution? I've found a few things that help.
First thing is to change how you think about thinking. Sounds quite cliché, I know. Try this.
Imagine you're sitting on a bench at the platform of a busy train station. You're not waiting for any particular train nor are you in any rush to move from your comfortable seat. Perhaps you take your phone out and take a selfie, check Facebook, or text a friend. A train approaches the station platform filled with passengers. The train stops and the doors slide open. Few people decide to step off the train onto the platform. A couple new passengers choose to climb aboard. The doors close and the train departs; you choose to sit.
Ten minutes later, another train arrives at the station platform. The doors slide open and a few more people step off of the train. Some take their time and walk calmly, while others push their way through the crowds to make up for lost time. The doors close and the train departs; you choose to sit.
Five minutes go by. Another train swiftly pulls into the station. The doors open and few people exit the train. There is no one waiting to board. The train idles there for ten more minutes with the doors wide open. You wonder if the doors are stuck and if there may be an issue with this train. You decide to stand up from your warm bench to walk over and take a gander. You approach the train and stand on the edge of the station platform. You hesitantly poke your head inside the doorway. There are no passengers onboard. You decide to avoid this train and just let it pass. Returning to your spot on the bench, the doors of the train close and it departs the station platform.
Each train that passes is like a thought. We as human beings have the option to take the train or to remain on the platform. We get to choose which thoughts to entertain and explore and which ones we will let pass us by. Sure, they will come again and the thought may be there. But you get to decide whether or not you want to travel and explore those ideas and conversations in your mind. Some thoughts will have no destination and some will. Some will derail you and others may keep you stuck at the station.
This analogy of the train station, along with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation, has improved how I react to situations at this moment in my life and has reshaped how I think about thinking. It's given me freedom and understanding that I don't have to think to find answers. I just have to sit and watch the trains go by. If I get on one, great! Let's see where it goes. If I keep sitting, then I keep sitting and nothing happens.
This blog post is more or less a springboard for an article (see below) that I read over a year ago about the Millennial Generation. Millennials, for those who are unaware, are the generation that was born in the early 1980's to early 2000's.
I found this article by Abby Ellin very spot on and interesting. I won't go into detail about my feelings with the article, rather, I want you to explore and discover what is mentioned with blind eyes.
Click "Download File" for the PDF of "The Beat Up Generation" article. It was publish in Psychology Today and is written by Abby Ellin.
OR you can read it here online - https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201402/the-beat-generation
"Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it."
With the start of summer being tomorrow, I can now say that the past 10 months has been one big roller coaster for me both physically, mentally, emotionally and everything in-between. However, you wouldn't understand the past 10 months unless we venture back in time to age 5.
I've always had something to "go to" since I've been a toddler. Think about it, we all go through this. At the age of 5 we start Kindergarden, or Pre-K (depending on your situation). We attend school till we are seniors in high school. Then off to college we go for 4 more years. Graduate at the age of 22 and head off into the working world without much of a break in-between and work till retirement. Whoa... let's slow down that train!... Too fast.
Now, I understand that this doesn't fit ALL people, but most people I know have followed this path, which reminds me of an industrial assembly line... not the life I want to be living. I decided to go into music education when I was in high school, mainly because my friends were doing that, so I wanted to do it too. The next "go to" step after graduating high school was graduating college.
The plan after I graduated college was to take the year to work towards applying for a masters degree and to continue making money through playing gigs and working miscellaneous music jobs. I had something to "go to". Work was sporadic and unsteady.
This time last year, I was going into rehearsals for a summer production of a musical and had nothing to "go to" once it was over. No gigs. No steady job. No nothing! I felt that I had no other options to "go to" so I might as well teach music. I went to school for it, so I guess that means I have to do it, right?...
Ten months ago, I started a full-time teaching job. I went into it thinking that it was the perfect job with a great starting salary and incredible people, and it was! But from day one I felt something wasn't working. I kept telling myself things like "well, you have nothing else to do so you have to teach", "you're in this job so you can't do anything else." and I felt trapped.
My moment of clarity came when I compared my working relationship with that of a physical, romantic relationship. I knew from the moment I started that I didn't like it and wanted something different. I couldn't place my finger on what it was specifically about the job that I didn't like, all I know is I felt like it's not what I'm supposed to be doing. If you are in a relationship and feel like something isn't working, do you stay with that person and force it to work? Or do you cut them loose to explore and find someone else? Do toddlers try to force the star shape into the square at the doctors office when they are playing with the Fisher Price toy? Or do they eventually learn what shape works better?
We tend to hold on to the things we know we don't work but feel bad about leaving them which keeps us stuck. And the longer we keep forcing it, the harder it is to get out later down the line. So I made the decision to leave teaching after one year. I'm excited, and yet terrified, about what I'm "going to" in the future, but I listened to my heart for the answers which feels so liberating after I made my decision.
I don't regret one single thing about these past 10 months because had it not been for that, I wouldn't have gone through the process of finding out what works for me, as hard as it was at times. We all have the power to change our situations, and it may take time, but are you willing to take a risk and follow your heart? What's stopping you?...