If you have ever been told you “think too much,” you know the pain of attempting to respond to this statement without steam shooting from your ears. You understand the annoyance of watching others go through life, unencumbered by their thoughts.
You sympathize with those who share your ruminative way of life, and you wish everyone else could take a peek inside your mind. Maybe then they'd see why you shouldn't be criticized as an excessive thinker. They would see it's not that easy to “stop thinking so much.”
For people like me – whose thoughts are meteor showers on an average day – it's tough to explain what's happening. But, I'll give it a shot anyway:
1. Your mind is a world of its own.
No mortal can contemplate what goes on in there. It all begins at dawn.
You wake each morning with a careful series of mental checklists, each one designed to slough off the last remnants of sleep. Before you reach the coffee pot, a tsunami of the day's demands crashes over your conscience until you're left wondering whether you already put cream in your cup.
You dress and descend upon the day in a contented haze of thought, reveling in the peace of early morning solitude. Then, you spot other humans.
2. Your friends have to censor what they say.
Because they know, by the way your face coils up, that the gossip they just imparted to you is now your mind's chew toy. Whether this is your ex's current relationship status, the descriptors typically used to identify you by the opposite sex or the probability of rain on your birthday, those nagging social issues become plaguing personal dilemmas.
If you weren't so pensive, you'd simply shrug it off. But you collect their verbal assaults and study them to no end.
Your best friend is the one who says, “You don't need to know” and sticks to it, despite your inquiring pleas. This is good because you'll have one less migraine.
3. You're characterized as "quiet," but you actually just never pay attention.
There are so many things happening in your head. In fact, most commonly, while someone is speaking to you, you're also having a conversation with yourself inside your head.
Not only are you analyzing the inflections in your friend's voice, the variations in his or her facial expressions and the true meaning of whatever he or she is saying, but you're also hyper-aware of the fact that your friend is quite possibly doing the same thing to you.
Therefore, you monitor your own appearance with inner commands and criticism. By the time you realize the conversation is over, you have absolutely no idea what was just communicated to you or what you responded with, if anything. It's all just white noise.
4. You are constantly on edge.
Interruptions in your train of thought are disorienting. You feel like a zombie on most days, and when you run into someone you know, you're unintentionally lethargic in your response.
You usually say something like, “I'm sorry. I'm so out of it today.” But what you really mean is you're out of it every day because your brain won't stop. You were worrying about absolutely everything except what that person thinks of you. But now, you're worried about that too because you just can't stop thinking.
5. When you try to explain the struggle to anyone, you have no words.
But, everyone gives you annoying advice like, “Just stop thinking so much.” It's as if you haven't been trying to do that since you figured out what snow was, wondered how it got there, why it was so cold and if it made your nose fall off. You always cry for lack of immediate answers.
It feels like you're trudging through an onslaught of questions that your brain won't defend you against because apparently, everything matters all the time. You must know how and why. It's crucial to your very existence.
6. By nighttime, you're too tired to function.
Your brain is echoing now, and a migraine is on the way. Advil is your friend.
Your human friends, however, assume you're being lame and introverted. But in reality, you refuse to go out because you can't handle more things to think about. New stimulation past 6 pm is incomprehensible, so you pull your pillow over your face and count sheep.
When you reach 100, you start to question how much longer you should count until you're sleepy, how the pillow got to be so lumpy and why sheep are so dumb.
7. You envy people who live life without thinking too much.
It would be so much easier if there was an "off" switch, and if you could breeze through life without the insistent need to interpret and analyze all there is to know about the world.
It would be so much simpler to be able to receive information without hearing the echo of it in your mind, which keeps ricocheting off the rest of the busy content you already know. It would be so much easier, but it wouldn't necessarily make you happy.
8. You never let anything go, but that's not a bad thing.
Consider yourself a collector, a gatherer of thoughts, emotions and intellect. You decipher puzzles that most humans don't know exist.
You are your own headache, but at the end of all your cerebral agony, you've found meaning among the irrelevance. At the very least, you will never be afflicted by boredom. You'll be too busy wondering where the word has been derived from.