Everyone was scratching their heads.

I always want to see inside other people’s brains while they are thinking.  I know how mine works, but I always wonder if everyone else thinks the same way.   How do you describe what form your thoughts take?  How do you even attempt to compare notes?

I have given a lot of presentations since I started grad school.  When I give presentations my thoughts look completely different than when I am sitting on the couch.  When I’m sitting on the couch or talking to a friend, my brain is very in the moment.  I am thinking 5-10 things at the same time, and the words coming out of my mouth can readily switch between any of these thoughts.  Even mid sentence, I can switch between thoughts seamlessly.   I don’t know what my next 5-10 thoughts will be because I’m only thinking in the current moment, but I am not worried about responding to the next question or statement or idea because I know I will have so many options to chose from.  That is the other thing: I can really quickly and easily evaluate all of these thoughts at the same time and chose my favorite while speaking.

When I am giving a presentation I only have one line of thought, or very rarely two.  The other main difference is that I am not thinking in the moment at all.  In fact, I am usually not even hearing the words I am saying because I already thought them 90 seconds ago and moved on.  I am thinking about 5 sentences ahead and that is all.  I can not think about other options of things to say at all.  It is like I just hit the play button and I have to think a single train of thoughts that is way ahead of what I am actually saying – I do not have any options.  It is even more annoying than it sounds, because occasionally I will forget a word that I’m trying to think of to say.  And it is really annoying because I can see it coming from at least a minute away. Words keep flowing out of my mouth but all I can think is: “what is that word… I know it’s in here somewhere… is ‘somewhere’ one word or two?… c’mon, 30 seconds left to think of this word…great… now I have to fumble around with words for a while and mumble until I can get passed this idea… no one knew what I just said.”  It’s really easy to type how I think when I’m giving a presentation because it’s a linear string of thoughts.  I would not even begin to be able to type how I think when I’m on the couch.

I wish I could experience how other people think.  I feel like a lot of people probably just have so many thoughts at the same time that they cannot sort them out and say anything coherent.  I am addicted to this idea of knowing how other people think.