I like to pride myself in being pretty punctual. (For some reason, my sense of time is much better than the other women in my family.) Yesterday however, I wound up being a little late in going to a different Toastmaster's meeting - mainly because my car's GPS took me to the town's city hall instead of the public library where I needed to go. Unfortunately, that little delay meant that I couldn't scope out an ideal place to sit at the meeting and I wound up having to sit in the worst possible place for me... in the center of a "U" table arrangement at the farthest point possible from the speakers presenting at the front of the room. It was very frustrating because I couldn't focus on the primary speaker, whose presentation was the whole reason why I went to that meeting.
I have pretty wide peripheral vision to begin with, but being at the middle of the "U" meant that everyone sitting at one of the side legs of the "U" was in my line of sight. My view was flooded with triggers such as people drumming their fingers on the tables, twiddling thumbs on top of clasped hands, rubbing hands that almost had an "evil scientist" look, feet tapping and bouncing underneath the tables, one person clicking his ball-point pen over and over and over... Worst of all was that everyone seemed to have a cup of coffee or soda at their place and there wasn't a single moment where the motion of someone slowly bringing their cup to their lips and back down didn't distract me. That last trigger has always been baffling to me, but for some reason just the slow motion of a hand (with or without a cup/bottle/can) moving up and down in my peripheral vision always annoyed me. On top of those triggers, there was a late comer to the meeting who sat directly to my right and spent the entire time texting on her cell phone.
Although the person whose presentation I came to see spoke at the beginning of the meeting, the entire meeting was scheduled to last four hours. I knew there was no way for me to be able to sit through three more hours of constant triggers. It's not like I could just look down at the tabletop and listen to the speaker. I was in the direct line of sight of the speakers and it could look like I was falling asleep. (Eye contact is very important when speaking to an audience Luckily, one person at the meeting knew of my misophonia, so I told him during the break that the triggers were overwhelming me and I needed to leave. He offered to see if people would switch seats with me, but I really felt uncomfortable asking people to do that, especially when it was my first time visiting the group and people didn't know me.
It was probably just as well that I left... This coming Thursday I'm going to be presenting my first speech to my new Toastmaster's club and I'm going to use that opportunity to tell them about my misophonia. It's been about seven years since I presented a speech at a Toastmasters meeting so I'm a bit rusty. I needed the time this weekend to pull my thoughts together and figure out what I'm going to say. Of course, I'll post what happens after my Thursday presentation.