I Can’t Stand Still!

I can’t seem to stand still!

This is nothing new. I’ve noticed it before, and wondered about it, but it really began to seem ridiculous over the weekend. I took the Little Miss to her dance class on Saturday morning. The parents don’t go into the class. We drop off our kids and then pick them up an hour later. Like several of the parents, I stuck around, lingering in the hallway, listening to more of Simon Winchester’s The Men Who United the States.

Most parents who stuck around sat on the ground, backs against ubiquitous lockers, tapping away at their phones, or reading a newspaper. I’m just not comfortable sitting on a hard floor, and so I stood for the hour. I was moving the entire time.

When standing and waiting, my default appears to be a gentle sway to the left and right. I sway and I sway and I sway with no end in sight. Other people stand still, and I tell myself that it is silly for me to be swaying while I stand. So I stop swaying. But it feels strange to me not to be moving. And the moment my attention is not focused on standing still—as when I am focused on listening to my audiobook instead—I begin swaying again.

The fact is, I am rarely still. While at work, my fingers are flying across the keyboard, and my legs are usually moving to some internal rhythm. When I take a break, I go for a walk, and then I’m moving. Even while standing in line to pay for something at the grocery store, I can’t stand still. I am always swaying this way or that way.

I try not to think about it too much. When I do, I become self-conscious. I try to stand still, and instead, feel like I am suddenly standing out.

Things have been this way as far back as I can remember. Back in the days (prior to my forties) when I could eat anything I wanted and put on no extra weight, I attributed my remarkable metabolism to the enormous amounts of energy my fidgeting must consume. Forget Pilates! Just put me in a line and I’ll burn a few hundred calories standing there waiting.

That is obviously not the case these days, a month or so before my 45th birthday. I fidget as much as I always have, but it no longer seems to have an impact on my metabolism. I have the sneaking suspicion that it never did.

No one ever mentions to me that I am fidgeting. No one ever complains. But I notice it, and when I try to stop it—and inevitably fail—I feel disappointed in myself. I should have more discipline than this. I would have made a terrible solider. Imagine me trying to stand at attention!

I tell myself that there is a good reason for my fidgeting, even if I don’t know what that good reason might be. But I am beginning to wonder if that is true.

I took me about ten minutes to write this little essay. When I started, I told myself that I would sit still through it; that I could certainly managed to sit still for ten minutes. Halfway through, I noticed a squeaking in the background. It was coming from my chair. My chair was squeaking because I was tapping my foot as I wrote.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go find the WD-40 so that I can get rid of this annoying squeak. It distracts my attention from trying to keep still.


  1. I also naturally sway to the sides. It usually doesn’t matter, but I have been told that is distracting when giving presentations or being on stage (acting or improv).

  2. I would recommend getting evaluated for ADHD. I do all of this as well, and finding out I had ADHD suddenly made this and a whole lot of things make sense.


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