wooden toy elephant on two books

What Do an Elephant and I Have in Common…?

When I was a kid, every time she saw me, my grandmother would ask me what I had in common with an elephant, to which I always replied, “An elephant never forgets!”

Even as a child, my family could see that I had a great memory. Pretty much anything anyone said or did would instantly stick in my head. And I was a nosy kid, too, so you can bet that I knew everything. Like most other children, I had very little filter, so my ability to retain information (and sometimes regurgitate it at the least appropriate times) was very apparent.

When I was very young, I pressed my parents to get me a pet. Recognizing that little Renata wouldn’t actually take care of a pet, they told me I would have to wait until I was 10 years old. Assuming I would forget about this promise, you can imagine my parent’s surprise when I asked them on my 10th birthday when I was getting a pet. 

What? I said I have a good memory, not that I always used it for good…

Not wanting to go back on their promise, they did get me a dog…which they then ended up taking care of. So really, my parents have my excellent memory to thank for the 13.5 wonderful years we had Dixie (pictured below). You’re welcome, parents!

But my good memory hasn’t only been used for remembering promises. In fact, I attribute much of my scholastic success to my good memory. I got good grades throughout most of my schooling, and while I worked very hard, I also had a bit of an easier time in school because of my memory. Analysis was an important part of my schoolwork, of course, but there were times where I would lazily bypass understanding the information in favor of some simple rote memorization.

The annoying thing about having a good memory when it comes to school is that weird, unimportant stuff sticks, while other, far more important stuff goes in one ear and out the other. So while I could approach some tests that required simple regurgitation rather blindly, some tests I actually had to study for, and sometimes I didn’t know the difference until it was too late. Songs could definitely help me memorize things more easily, so I would frequently turn to songs by Schoolhouse Rock and Animaniacs to help me memorize concepts. One Animaniacs song about the presidents helped me to lead my team to victory in a high school US history competition. Specifically for this competition, I memorized the US presidents by number and was therefore able to answer questions about the presidents without really knowing anything about them. 

Okay, so maybe I never fully stopped using my powers for evil…

Not only can I fairly easily recall past events, but my brain also makes associations very easily. So, often when I remember something obscure, I can also remember the food that we ate at the time or an article of clothing that someone was wearing that day. If I know that I discussed something with someone via text, I often can picture the text in my mind, so I know which messaging app to reference in order to find the text in question. Don’t mention anything to me that you don’t want remembered, that’s all I’m saying.

While a good memory may seem like a great asset, there are some downsides to having random things stick in my head. For one, I remember the ways in which everyone has ever hurt me and also all of the ways that I’ve hurt others. The memory of the pain is so acute that any time it crops up in my memory, it’s as though it just happened. This can make me feel irrationally angry at those I love or myself. It can be very hard to forgive and forget (even myself) if the “forget” part is literally impossible. 

I also get very angry at myself when I forget anything. Important dates, names, schedules…if you’ve told me something, I should remember. I know that I’m capable of remembering it, therefore forgetting is unacceptable. On the other hand, if anyone else forgets something I’ve said, it’s not a big deal. I know that my memory is exceptional, so I give others a pass if their memory isn’t as great as mine is. 

Editor Josh’s memory, however, happens to be just as good as mine, so he gets no pass, and it’s always interesting when he and I disagree on past events. As two people who are usually used to being right about past events and not believing that others have memories that match ours, we mostly just end up agreeing to disagree and thinking the other person is being foolish for not believing our version of events. Silly Josh, we did agree to have that meeting on Sunday, August 29th (yes, he did edit this post, knew exactly what I was talking about, and still totally disagreed – that’s okay, he can be wrong). [Editor’s Note: We most certainly did NOT agree to hold the meeting then, and this is a hill that I’m very much prepared to die on.]

My memory is one of the things that defines me and the way that my mind works. While it can be a pain sometimes (I’ve been known to say “my memory is my worst enemy,” primarily when I’m pretending to write some bad punk music), it can be helpful, especially when remembering random things that I don’t need to remember! I can regurgitate useless information until the cows come home, and occasionally, I can even regurgitate the odd bit of useful information! So if you want to know some piece of information that someone said to me in passing, or a celebrity birthday I looked up 10 years ago, or what I wore to any interview anywhere, I will remember it…for some weird reason.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

4 thoughts on “What Do an Elephant and I Have in Common…?

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