Who is “The Flat Girl”?

I turned 44 this year and, until recently, have not fully explored the justification for my many failed relationships both romantic and familial.  Certainly, I had pondered over the years what I was doing wrong when interacting with my family or why I just seemed to have such bad luck with men.

Then, recently I was told by somebody I am very “flat” in interpersonal situations,

Paper Doll,  ca. 1920

Paper Doll, ca. 1920 (Photo credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

and I have no affect.  They went on to explain  it was in direct conflict with my public persona because I am typically very charming, gregarious, popular, and social.  My first reaction was to be surprised, until I thought about something somebody else said about me once.  They said I treat everybody as if I am conducting business with them.  While I would never have thought it to be an insult, I am now beginning to take pause at the thought.

So, I want to explore the notion of being “the flat girl”, not necessarily a girl with no personality, as I have plenty to spare… but rather a girl who, for some reason, does not have the ability to share emotion or feeling with those closest to me.  I want to write this blog and explore those feelings, thoughts, and emotions and hope others will explore theirs as well.

34 thoughts on “Who is “The Flat Girl”?

  1. An interesting observation about yourself.
    I’ve always been that way. It takes time and a good deal of investment from others to get close to me. Even on here, writing a blog, alot of aspects of me are way too personal to share without careful consideration.

  2. I found your blog through Diane Reed’s (a.k.a. Coastalmom) blog. You remind me SO much of my best friend. I am going to recommend this blog to her. She is an AMAZING woman. She is brilliant. She is a principal of a middle school, has her docterate, a superintendent certification, and is the most ASTOUNDING single mother you have ever met. This post SO reminds me of her. We talk about how she always has to “wear a mask”. Sometimes it’s hard for her to take the mask off, I think. Being an administrator in education is a lot like being a politician. I don’t know how she does it.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts. I think you are delightful and inspiring.

    Love,
    Ava

    • Ava,
      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for saying such wonderful things about me. Your friend does sounds like me. I have only recently found my writing voice and am lucky to have a “significant other” who has encouraged me for so long… I just never had the self-esteem to listen.

      I do hope your friend will follow as well… I write for the cathartic feeling, but if I can inspire as well… then, all the better.

      Best to you always,
      Me

  3. My first instinct when I read your blog was how much I wanted to give you a great big hug and tell you how wonderful a person I could see in you. Much of what you have written hits close to home. I can’t say that I have ever attempted suicide, but that doesn’t mean the thought never crossed my mind. I think the thing that always stopped me was not finding value in myself, but the thought of how the suicides of so many others has affected those around them – including myself. I think you have a wonderful writing voice, and I look forward to watching as explore the you inside. And just so you know – the hug is there for you – as you continue to grow stronger through your journey.

    • Thank you so much for coming across my blog… and for your wonderful words of encouragement. I am sorry that you have been touched by suicide, as it is a terribly dark and sinister friend … at times I cannot escape her grip, at other times, she is my best friend. Writing is beginning to heal me.

      I am so happy you are here and offering encouraging hugs.

      Thank you.

      Always,
      Me

  4. I can appreciate Flat Girl and your adoption of that clinical term for labeling a person’s supposed affect. In past employments, I was required to pick words to denote a person’s affect. I did it only to comply with industry standards. I have never bought into clinical labels. we would be better served spending time coming up with words to describe the affect of the sky. But that word has serve you well, it has created contrast. Your Terra Nova! I live and die by transparency. Good to meet a fellow traveler. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I will not say that you don’t have feelings, but your description of yourself is rather objective and formal. I’m wondering if trying to describe what you are feeling in physical terms would help. I will say that this 55-year-old married man is drawn to that gravitar image as he would to his forlorn little girl, to comfort and cheer her up.

    I will fake it for you, or try, so I can show you what I mean:

    She handed me the package. My heart skipped a beat, my cheeks flushed, my mouth went dry and I suddenly inhaled a silent involuntary gasp. Could it be? I gently tore away the smallest corner of wrapping paper and suddenly knew! My legs were trembling, my heart pounding, I was almost running in place because I couldn’t stand on either foot I was so excited and then I started breathing in and out in the tiniest of rapid breaths as tears streamed down my cheeks but I was not crying, I had never felt such unbridled joy before in my life . . .

    Awful prose, perhaps, but my point is descriptions of symptoms like this help express emotion. I don’t know what is right for you and whether you want help or validation. I will read through some of your entries and see what sense I get.

    I often hide how I feel.

    • Sir,
      I can appreciate what you are saying in your comments about my post…

      In reading it, I can see where it reads almost clinical. I have my moments, especially being bipolar, manic-depressive, borderline personality disorder, and OCD, I can be entirely outgoing, very flat, almost withdrawn, the list goes on.

      It seems when writing this that I was doing it from almost an outsider’s perspective; perhaps from too many years of therapy.

      Thank you so much for your remarks, though; they help me to reflect even further upon my personality and to help me with things I can do to … become more three dimensional.

      Always,
      Me

    • Thank you, Chuck.

      As, I have already “put so much out there”, the 99 questions was the least of my concerns…

      If you feel like giving it a go, you should! I would love to read it.

      Always,
      Me

  6. This is very amusing to me as I sometimes feel that I need to treat people more as if I were doing business with them.
    This helps me to see that there is no right formula for the growth process that we all must endure through this journey that we call life.
    All we can do is grow and try to remain true to ourselves through that growth.

  7. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will find something that will interest you in the future.
    Be Blessed- David

  8. I am humbled and pleased as Punch with my award. Thank you so much for nominating me.

    Now, where do I find 11 people who deserve this? Must get busy.

  9. I just read your comments on being ‘flat’.
    If I might be so bold, may I ask you four questions? Nothing outre.

    Do you enjoy music, a lot?
    Are you tone deaf? (ie can’t sing in tune or sing quite flat)?
    Do you enjoy singing in public, or yearn to?
    Do you have an excellent, almost eidetic, memory?

    Please don’t answer if you feel I’m intruding. I’m no psychologist but I’m a keen observer of people and your answers may have some significance.

    • I am an open book, so no question is ever obtrusive. I will answer as openly and honestly as possible.

      Do you enjoy music, a lot? I enjoy music very much; I can only listen to songs and pieces that have significance to me. If I can understand the words and apply meaning to them then I like them. Even if that simply means they remind me of something in my life, whether happy, sad, melancholy, or lonely… it matters not, just as long as it has meaning to me.

      Are you tone deaf? (ie can’t sing in tune or sing quite flat)? I simply have no skill when it comes to singing. I am not certain if you would consider it tone deaf, as I guess I do not necessarily know the definition. I used to play the flute when I was younger, and was quite good. I had an audition with the Salt Lake Philharmonic (although I never made it to the audition – but that is another story for another time).

      Do you enjoy singing in public, or yearn to? My one experience of singing in public (other than the requisite recitals in elementary school) was a drunken karaoke version of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. I was both mortified and exhilarated. No, I did not enjoy it. While I love to be the center of attention and enjoy being the life of the party, I do not need to sing to get attention; nor do I yearn for it. I am more than happy to “perform” or be noticed in other ways. Writing, listening, and talking for example. I have many verbal skills, but my singing voice is not one of them.

      Do you have an excellent, almost eidetic, memory? Yes, my memory is impeccable. I have the ability to remember times, place, and oddly enough, what I was wearing at the time. It drives people nuts. I do my best to block out the negative and not bring it up and use it against people, preferring to focus on the positive. When I need to recall the negative memories, they are there.

      Thank you for the questions… I look forward to your analysis 🙂

      Always,
      The Flat Girl

      • I need to give a preamble of how I know what I’m about to describe…

        As I said, I’m no psychologist and i’ve no training whatsoever in that field, but I worked with someone who is similar to your description of yourself. Anyway, one day while reading an Oliver Sacks book I came across a description of the way my colleague acted that was uncanny in its accuracy. From that I looked around for other people who had the same mannerisms and demeanour. And I found 3 or 4 of them, in fact one of my mates exhibits the exact behaviour described in the book.
        I work in the oil business and of the 5 people I know with these characteristics they all work in the field of materials management – a job that is suited to people with a phenomenal memory, incredible attention to detail and single mindedness in getting the job done.
        So in my own amateurish way I asked (in roundabout ways) the questions i posed to you – and they all gave the same answer. I never ever told them what I was doing, mainly because they might have taken it the wrong way and hell, I was just being curious.

        So what was in this book? Oliver Sacks described a little known variation of Tourette’s Syndrome – one not typified by spitting and swearing. The people were described as having a ‘flat personality’, often they spoke in a monotone. That’s not to say they weren’t lively and good company in the right circumstances. They had eidetic memories and tended to be in jobs where they were (kind of) back room guys counting things (eg accountancy clerks) or where having a total recall was an advantage. They tended to seek out opportunities where they could sing (often in choirs where their monotone voice was drowned out) and they loved music.

        Please, please do not take this the wrong way but perhaps its not your personality that’s flat, you may well suffer from a ‘condition’. I don’t know if its fixable and in any case it doesn’t stop you living your life. All of the people I mentioned above were incredibly in love with their wife and they were great sons and fathers. I really liked them.

        I’m trying to remember the name of the book (and I’m fighting a strong urge to delete everything i’ve written here because who the hell am I to bring this to your attention – and i might be a million miles off the mark).

        I’ve only read 2 of his books
        – The Man Who Mistook His Wife For His Hat, and reading his bibliography I can’t see another title that I recognise.
        Have a look at that book, I’m pretty sure the text is in it.

        Sorry if i’ve been intrusive. In any way.

        Perhaps you should take this reply off the grid.

        Yours

        Jim

      • Jim,
        I had to do a double-take when I read your response… I used to be a materials manager. Only for a year, but there it was. I also worked in finance/accounting for a number of years. It was a very solitary job, but one where I could easily spend my time alone, counting and ensuring things “added up” on a daily basis. It suited me, although it was boring as all get out.

        I have also been an ISO/OSHA trade compliance manager, as I am extremely good at minute details. The job required me to read volumes of governmental jargon and decipher it into blue collar terminology and train people… I was very good at it.

        The flip side to all of this is that I am bipolar, so the other side of the pole is that when I am not “flat”, I am incredibly animated; a natural performer and the life of the party. When I am training employees I am “on stage” and nobody can picture me with this incredible memory and sitting in the back room counting and writing policy.

        As a result, I have been incredibly unhappy no matter what I am doing.

        However, I have now been given an opportunity to simply write.

        I get to be alone as much as necessary… great for those times when I need to be flat and alone with just me and my memories.. and then there are those times (like last weekend) when I am out and interviewing people and get to be the life of the party. I feel like I am closer to achieving that balance that I need.

        You have certainly not offended me, and I will not take down your post. I appreciate and thank you for your analysis and your interaction with me.

        Thank you.

        Always, The Flat Girl

      • Whew – I opened your reply with one eye. I thought it might be the big FO tablet.

        Are you going to have a look at the book? I probably don’t remember a tenth of what Sacks said and if it gives some insight it can only be a good thing.

        I hope you write up a storm, I’m sure you have plenty of source material.

        I’ll keep an eye on your blog.

      • I will definitely take a look at the book as soon as I get a chance. I am working on a series of pieces right now, besides my regular articles, so have interviews scheduled …. and always have several books going… but I have already made a note of it in my phone.

        Thank you so much for your insights.

        And, thank you for “visiting” with me 🙂

        Always, The Flat Girl

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