Personal Post: Living Life as a Goldfish

It’s been said that a goldfish only has an active memory span of about three seconds. Science has disproven this myth, but it has been an apt comparison to people who struggle with remembering things. I say all the time that I have the memory of a goldfish, mostly because I have a consistent pattern of forgetting things. Most of the time those things aren’t very important, but sometimes they can be quite a problem.

The problem for me is when this bad quality crops up when it involves making plans with other people or conveying important information to those who need it. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told some detail that needed to be passed on or discussed with someone only to forget the entire thing moments after the conversation is over. It isn’t very frustrating to me, but it usually sparks quite a bit of irritation or anger when I come in at the last minute with important information. It’s even worse when I completely forget altogether.

I’m not sure what causes this problem with my memory. There isn’t anything in my long term memory to suggest this was ever a problem in the past, so either my memory is so bad that my entire life isn’t as I recall or this is something that is getting worse with age. I don’t believe Alzheimer’s runs in my family, and I hate to think about possibly going down that road. I’ve seen what that can do to people.

Another possibility is simply that my attention seems to always be focused on the moment, which I discussed in another article. I get a new piece of information and then, if I don’t do something to make sure I remember it later, my attention shifts back to whatever it was I was doing or whatever the next thing on my list is. The detail I was supposed to retain is lost to the void, only to resurface later when something happens that forces it back into my head.

The problem is that it comes off to other people as if I just don’t care enough about them to remember. That’s an understandable way to look at it, even if it isn’t true. I do care, and I’m always there for the people who need me when it’s most important, setting aside anything I have going on to make sure they have what they need. The problem is those pesky details that just aren’t big enough to stay in my brain for very long. Those get left by the wayside.

It makes things very difficult for me in my daily life. I’m always blindsided with things that I should have taken care of long before it came up, but didn’t because I wasn’t able to retain the memory long enough to do something about it. It constantly frustrates my significant other, and there have been a non-zero number of arguments that have stemmed from me forgetting to tell her something she needed to know. No one chooses to live life that way. Why would I choose to make things more difficult?

If you are a consistent reader, you’ll not that I put the moniker of personal post on this article. All this means is that I wanted to share something about myself with you that isn’t necessarily about the topics this blog was created for, but more about who I am as a person. Sometimes it helps to share things with others, even if it probably won’t fix whatever problem you have. Maybe it can or maybe it can’t, but at least putting it out there in the world is doing something about it. Here’s hoping that I can figure out how to make this problem more manageable.

What do you think about forgetting things? Does it mean you don’t care, or is it a problem with your brain? Is there someone in your life who struggles with an inability to keep track of things? It can be hard to tell the difference between someone who doesn’t care and someone who just can’t keep it together, but it’s usually better to assume that they just can’t make it work until you have evidence to the contrary.

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