Pros and Cons of Having a Decent Memory

I have always been able to remember things pretty well. When I was a phone-a-holic in middle school, I had all of my friends’ numbers memorized. I still had a Lisa Frank address book, but it was just for backup. When I began running cross country, I could tell you the finish time and place for almost every race I ran. It is a normal occurrence for me to recite and entire conversation that Josh and I have had in the past of which he has no recollection. Of course, it served me well in school as well – where most of what is asked of you is to remember formulas or facts. I don’t have a photographic memory, so I still had to study to remember those facts, but it matched with my learning style well.

I’ve learned there can be some downfalls of having a good memory, though. Granted, most of these have more to do with personality than the actual memory, but it’s still a fun illustration.

I feel betrayed if I lose something. Do you ever have moments where you go on autopilot and close the garage door or put away groceries but can’t actually remember doing it? Those moments scare me to death, especially when I lose something. I am so reliant on my ability to recall information that I freak out when there’s a blank spot or worse – a false memory. If my keys are missing but I know I hung them on the key ring when I got home, I can dramatically extrapolate that to my entire life being a lie. What else have I been misremembering? Can I ever trust myself again? Obviously this is an overreaction, and I calm down and become rational again eventually…usually after I find whatever I’m looking for.

I remember other people a lot more often than they remember me. There have been a number of times where I am meeting someone for the second or third time, and they introduce themselves as if we’ve never met. The worst times are when I can remember when and where we met and what we talked about, and after an awkward occasion or two of explaining this to someone (getting a blank stare or alarmed look in return), I usually just go with it now or offer a brief “I think we’ve met before?” It receives a much better reaction.

The vast majority of the time, I am grateful for the way my mind works and think it’s pretty cool. I love that Josh and I can have stereotypical sitcom moments where he can’t find something, and I know exactly where it is in the house. It’s convenient (and dangerous) for online shopping to have your credit card information memorized. I love remembering friends’ birthdays and anniversaries, and I cherish the fact that I can remember time spent with loved ones. As long as I have systems in place, my memory is a great tool in my skillset. It’s when you rely on it alone and don’t have a system that is can get you in trouble.


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