Thursday, February 5, 2009

“The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it”

I often worry about my ability to hold up my end of a conversation.
Today this thought crossed my mind (as it often does) while visiting with friends of my parents whom I respect a great deal. I found myself not being able to fill silences with meaningful questions and/or banter and relying on them to carry my weight. I think that is why I enjoy text messaging and writing e-mails or facebook messages rather than calling people. What if I don't have anything to say? What if there is an awkward silence? What if I say something stupid or wrong or offensive? It is my fear of inadequacy and my strong dislike of silence that stops me from calling.
Family? Close family is easy, there is always something to talk about. Friends? Close friends are alright because you are usually calling them for a reason. Strangers? Sure, who cares, you'll never speak to them again. But some people...that blurred line between friend and acquaintance, boy who's a friend and boyfriend...that's trouble.
And I don't just mean over the phone. In many social settings like bars, parties or even small gatherings where I don't feel totally comfortable with all of the people in attendance I quiver with fear. Fear of being dull. That's what this really is. Fear of no one wanting to talk to me. Partially because of my looks (but I can change that if I want to) but mostly because I'm not interesting...or not cool. I always look at hipsters in trendy downtown bars or hole in the wall pubs and wonder why they're so cool. People like my friend Sean who is effortlessly cool and not embarrassed to be who he is. Maybe that's why. He is unapologetically himself. I wish I could be that way.
But something inside me feels like I may never be able to shake this feeling of not being smart enough, interesting enough, educated enough, opinionated enough to carry on a real conversation. But...perhaps this thought may set me free....
"Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most
about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory."
Happy Conversing kids!