Google+ Sandra's Stories: Unlearning old tricks

Monday, 11 February 2013

Unlearning old tricks

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time trying to learn novelty tricks - like how to spin a pen continuously around my fingers and how to speed read. I was convinced that learning these tricks would be a long term investment in my future.

Unfortunately, these skills haven’t rewarded me with the lifelong admiration and coolness that I was hoping for. In fact, they have turned out to be terrible habits that I can’t shake. Whilst I’ll admit, I did get a few compliments for my pen spinning in high school, the praise quickly dried up once I graduated. At university my lecturers’ eyes always seem to narrow and glare in my direction if I tried pen spinning during their lectures. And at work, I’ve noticed it tends to make my colleagues flinch… particularly if the pen scuttles across the workstations towards them. I’ve tried my best to stop but when there’s a pen around, my fingers itch to spin it.

By far the worst skill that I learnt was speed reading. I think I must have missed some key points when I learnt this one. Previously, I would read every word, no matter how long it took, or how boring the writing was. Since learning to speed read, I now find that my eyes glaze over and slide down the page sightlessly, but at record speed. I take in at most, two words per page. Then I have to force myself to read it again at a normal speed to actually get the information.

Speed reading gets me into all sorts of trouble in my personal life. For example, the other day, I thought I’d signed up for a bus and hotel weekend package. However when I turned up for the bus, I discovered that instead of staying in a hotel, we were going to be driving all night and using the bus as our accommodation. This was all detailed in the information email which I’d speed read. After a horribly uncomfortable night on the bus, I cursed once again, my high school efforts to be cool.