Nervous Tick

Butterflies in your stomach. Biting your nails or lips. Knocking your knees. Furtive eyes. These are all indications that you’re nervous.

When I get nervous, I tend to smile. Sounds weird, but I’m pretending that everything is still okay. Keep me in whatever situation that’s making me uncomfortable and I’ll start fidgeting, either a foot, an entire leg, or both legs. Then my eyes start darting everywhere, but not focusing on anything I see. When it gets really, really bad, I start talking. A lot. And saying pretty stupid stuff that later on I’d replay over and over again in my head, reliving the moment when I embarrassed myself in front of everyone because even while I’m talking, my mind’s blanking out, so it sounds as if I have something to say, only to run into a wall. A wall of shame.

Now on my better days, I’m able to scramble for my poker face and stick to the “pretending everything’s okay” by smiling a lot. Others have much more impressive poker faces than I do, while the rest have different ways of showing their nervousness. For example, I know someone who blinks more often, while another grips their knees tightly until their fingertips turn white. Another eats her hair, while still another ties the bottom of her shirt into knots.

I think I prefer these people to those who have a really good poker face, because even though most people try to control their nervous ticks, I’m glad when they can’t, because these reflexes make the body more honest to those who are observing closely. In fact, I find it most fascinating that our bodies aren’t made for lying or ignoring things that make us uneasy. I think it just goes to show just how social we humans are – that despite the most nerve-wrecking of circumstances, we’re still trying to let others know, hoping that someone is brave and observant enough to comfort us in our discomfort.


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