Thoughtful Thursday: Inhibition

March 7, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the MarchIntelligentsia.

#41: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#35: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#34: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#33: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#23: St. Elsewhere
#21: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#16: Sara from Aryanhwy
#15: Ana from Ana Begins
#5: Mina from Kmina’s Blog

Thoughtful ThursdayLast week’s discussion of our wild nights had an undertone of alcohol in my post and in most of the comments, but for me booze is not a necessary ingredient. On most of my wild and wild-ish nights, I have not had a drop to drink. Usually most of the people around me have had plenty, but I’m almost always totally sober.

I don’t need alcohol to stand on a stage and sing in front of a packed room. I don’t need alcohol to stand on a table and shake my ass (though generally I choose to shake my ass standing firmly on the floor). I didn’t need alcohol that time only a few years ago when I took off my sweater and stood outside a nightclub in my camisole to encourage the bouncer to let in my party more quickly. Sometimes, I have no inhibitions at all.

Which is pretty shocking to some people who encounter me in daily life, because often I seem to be very inhibited. Here’s the thing. I’m not inhibited, but I am usually very controlled, which looks the same — I choose my words and actions judiciously.

In graduate school, back when cardio kickboxing was all the rage, I brought an uninitiated classmate with me to a workout. In many ways we come across as similar, but we turned out to be wired quite differently. After the class, she made the observation that she and I approached complicated kickboxing sequences in opposite ways. When I wasn’t sure what to do, I paused for a few seconds to watch the instructor, until I had the steps down, then I’d join in. When she wasn’t sure what to do, she flailed wildly. She’s also someone who is quiet but not inhibited, who chooses her words and actions carefully — but when things get tough, she revs up and I slow down.

I’ve gotten more uninhibited since having children. Before, I would gladly get up and sing on a stage but I was sheepish about singing to a friend’s toddler when my friend was in the room. Now, I sing all the time for my children and I no longer care who else hears. Before, I tended to act like a normal person — a highly controlled version of a normal person. Now, I often use animated expressions, big gestures, and funny voices; I have become some sort of cartoon character.

How inhibited are you? How inhibited do you seem to others?

10 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Inhibition”

  1. St. Elsewhere Says:

    “I love your boldness. Give some of it to me too.”

    That is what I was told by a girl in school. You could ask me to stick a tongue to the class teacher and I would. I could drop a cork in a classmate’s test tube and ruin the experiment (I felt bad about the latter later).

    I think I appear more uninhibited than I actually am (in some spheres of life).

    I would overall say that I have more guts than most of the people I deal with. But, I work under a lot of restraints plus a lot of constraints. These are imposed and self-imposed.

    I am inhibited as far as clothing is concerned.

  2. Aryanhwy Says:


    I think I may come across as inhibited to people who don’t know me, but I think that’s rather shyness than inhibition; remove the shyness, and there’s plenty of hibition.

    Well, no I take that back. I was about to say that “for the most part, I don’t mind making a fool of myself”, but there is a very clear context where I do mind, and I mind so much that it makes it difficult for me to function in that area, and that is talking on the phone. I find phone conversations so difficult; there are no non-verbal cues, I don’t know all the standard filler comments, I find it had to hear/understand people through phones (this is even worse with cell phones, one reason why I railed against getting one for so long), and I always feel like when people hang up with me they’re going to go “What an idiot”.

    I also don’t like being in a situation where I have no idea what to do and I don’t speak the relevant language. I will admit, this has made the decision to move overseas rather fraught sometimes! It also means that when I’m traveling by myself, and don’t know the relevant customs about eating at restaurants (do I just go in and get a table? do I wait? how do I get the attention of the wait staff? how do I ask for my bill? how much do I tip?) I get quite good at procuring meals through grocery stores for the first few days, and then screw up my courage.

    Someday I’m going to have to teach my daughter proper phone etiquette, and I think I dread that more than the sex talk.

  3. Mina Says:

    Whenever there was the need for someone to do something more daring, like deal with strangers, or speak with the teachers on behalf of the class, or start the dancing at an awkward party to break the ice, I would be that person. When I liked someone, and feel it was time to do something and the other wouldn’t make the first step, I had no qualms being the initiator. Dealing with authorities, I usually get results quicker than the average. I guess being pro-active pays off.
    I do not know if all this makes me uninhibited. Part of it, yes, it does, as I firmly give a flying monkey’s as to what others think, and I do sing to and with my children on the street, or do anything else toddler appropriate to keep them amused and entertained. This is why I have fewer problems dealing with strangers, methinks. Part of it is just the result of my reasoning that rather than wait for the problem to get more serious, I would rather deal with it sooner and have it behind me. My husband is quite the opposite,he thinks it is better to wait until the problem goes away by itself, which it almost never does.
    The others think that I am quite uninhibited (as in a pro-active does, rather than a brash, loud nosy parker). So let’s go with that.

  4. Elana Kahn Says:

    There are a lot of circumstances where I really don’t have any inhibitions. I would totally do most of the things you described. lol I usually have a lot of guts when it comes to talking to people, too. I could go up to a celebrity and just start chatting without any trouble. I’m not as good with “strangers,” though. But I’m not a loud person. I tend to be quiet, though I will talk on and on.

  5. a Says:

    Most people would say that I’m repressed rather than inhibited. I have my moments – and they rarely involve alcohol. I would dance on the bar without a thought. However, most of my moments have come from frustrated impatience – when my friends were debating some feat or another, being wishy-washy about who was going to do it, my response was usually “Oh, for God’s sake – I’ll do it so I don’t have to listen to you people any more!” I guess that just means I am annoyed with indecisiveness, because I tend to make a decision and go with it.

    I’m very inhibited when it comes to talking to people. I’m fine with participating in conversations, but I generally fail at starting them…or keeping the momentum going, if it’s left up to me.

  6. strongblonde Says:

    let me check my list to see if being uninhibited is on there—nope. not there. 🙂

    i am very controlled. i tend to observe and then try to predict what my actions will look like. I try to imagine and overanalyze. I consider how my actions and words will be interpreted and then revise my own instincts based on my projections.

    but with kids? i just kind of don’t care anymore. i dance, i sing, i smile more.

    i can recall two times in the last 10 years when i was completely uninhibited when alcohol or kids weren’t involved.
    1) i was on a cruise with my friend to celebrate her bachelorette party. are of her friends had punked out and it was just the two of us. we sunbathed on the topless deck, ate with recless abandon, and went dancing every night. in fact, one night i was selected to participate in a “booty shaking” contest….and i participated and didn’t give it a second thought. maybe i was uninhibited because we were “protected” by not having anyone else around us that we knew? maybe it was because i really embraced living it up with my friend? who knows. 2) at b’s cousin’s wedding this summer. i danced and danced and danced. their band was amazing. they were playing these amazing mashups of songs. they came into the crowd to dance with us. it was just great.

    i think i like the balance i’ve become. it’s a big joke with my friends. in fact this week one commented about how i seemed so much more relaxed since having kids. and that was a HUGE shock to him. he would have thought i would have continued to be uptight, controlled, measured.

    maybe kids bring out the best in me? 😉

  7. Ana Says:

    I think I come across as inhibited because I am shy and have social anxiety about lots of stuff. But I don’t take myself too seriously. I have no problem singing, dancing, etc.. with or without alcohol involved. Yet I tense up when I have to call anyone on the phone, even to order a pizza. I act incredibly foolish with my children, even if out in public. I do NOT have stage fright for dancing/singing/acting or even reciting something someone else has written but giving a talk on my own research is terrifying. I talk & joke & reveal personal information easily with friends & peers, but can barely make small talk with more senior people at work. Some might say I dress “daringly” (though “daring” is relative. I wear bright colors, fun shoes, and dresses & skirts in a world where everyone is in gray and black, sensible footwear, and pants year-round). I guess I think of inhibitions as pearl clutching “I could NEVER” and I would pretty much do anything in the right company.

  8. Like you, I’ve gotten less inhibited since having kids. Partly it’s because I play more, or, more precisely, I’ve expanded my definition of “play.”

    My kids are now at the age that it bothers them that I’m liable to break into song and dance at any moment.

    And that’s play to me. Hehe.

  9. Mel Says:

    I’ve never been inhibited; even as a teenager I had no problem getting up in front of a crowd (I played Magenta at the local Rocky Horror). But one-on-one, I am very shy. Very awkward. I perfect example was lecturing. I was fine delivering my lecture in front of 400 students for class. But office hours were painful. Emotionally painful for me.

  10. Wow, this is a tough one. I think in some ways I am inhibited, mainly because of self-consciousness. But, I think I’m more self-conscious than inhibited (if that is possible? I probably should ask a shrink)… I don’t think people regard me as being inhibited, but it depends a bit on the company – I’m not inhibited at all in the playground after school with other parents around. But I might not say much during an intellectual dinner conversation (which there are many of in France) – this is mainly due to the fact that I always have a tendency to think things through (too much) first plus if I’m tired in the evening my French is giving out…

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