Parties, parties, parties, it's that time of year! Yikes! I tend to be a somewhat private very independent person. Social situations of any type at any point in my life have been borderline uncomfortable if not downright agonizing. Family or not, didn't matter. Of course family social situations were the first ones I was exposed to. There always seems to be some unreasonable expectations, some hoard of unwritten, unspoken rules to adhere to... I spend the entire time on edge hunting for spoken or visual cues of what to do or not do. It's exhausting and anything but enjoyable. (I wrote those last two sentences in the past tense originally referring to my childhood. As I read them back to myself I realized that's exactly how I still feel so I changed them to the present tense!) The rules change, too, by the way, depending on whether you're talking to Great Aunt Snobby or Cousin Tie Die...
I'm not sure who's in charge of the rule book, someone related to Emily Post, perhaps? I even signed up for classes online to try to help with small talk generation. I never completed the course. I got frustrated! You're supposed to be able to come up with a short, to the point, interesting story related to a topic just discussed... impromptu of course. If you've read my recent posts, you're familiar with my impromptu skill set... totally south of diddly-squat.
I'm somewhat comforted by my thesaurus search on small talk's synonyms... babble, blather, chatter, gab, gossip, idle talk, polite remark, prattle, rumors... all forms of speech I really don't put much stock in to begin with. That would partially explain my lack of interest in developing my skills. I also didn't need them, growing up anyway. Small talk was my Mother's department and, I must say, she is exceedingly skilled at it and seems to actually enjoy it. Because she always had it handled so remarkably well in every social situation, I never had to learn or was exposed to lengthy periods of uncomfortable, yeah unbearable silences. Mom to the rescue!!
Fast forward 35 years and apparently small talk is one of those adult skills you are expected to magically assimilate from thin air.... like swearing responsibly. Fuck! Yeah, sure, there are books and online classes, but really!? Our educational system is completely screwed the pooch in some seriously important areas. Fortunately this year I thought I had one interesting topic I could jabber on about to all those folks I see once a year... changing my name. Apparently most of them had already seen it on Facebook and weren't at all curious about any details... so much for that grand conversation save.
I have figured out a survival plan, that works every time, ask anyone questions about themselves and leverage those details to ask further, unobtrusive, and seeming attentive follow ups. That even seems to fizzle out quickly and a boredom cloud settles maybe it's too obvious that we're all feigning interest to begin with.
It was all so much easier when I was drinking and/or drunk. I was thoroughly adorable and quite sure I was the bell of the ball, in the moment. Later on I couldn't remember a thing so unless it was horribly horrible it didn't really matter. Now that I'm sober I'm painfully aware of my inadequacies in the small talk department and the fact that my memory is a sieve doesn't help. If I could remember a few of those leverage details (kids names or ages, career, relationships) from the last time I asked them questions, it would be so much easier to strike up or resuscitate a conversation. I also get the distinct feeling that no one really gives a shit for whatever reason, no judgement there, I can't say I blame them... the feeling's mutual.
I choose to communicate with people one at a time or in VERY SMALL groups in quiet-ish surroundings without a million distractions. Then I'm good, I care, I'm listening, I'm often funny and actually somewhat interesting to talk to (not just my own drunken impression, people, in fact, tell me this). I guess I'm going to need to spin this into some type of party navigation strategy... any which way, it's good to at least acknowledge so I can adjust my party time small talk expectations and strategies! Everyday closer to being me! Happy Holidays!
Born & raised by a workaholic - still recovering!
I decided back in November 2015 to make my poetry available and journal online. I'm not exactly sure what "blogging" means but I am quite sure this is an online journal. Feel free to read on with an aire of open minded curiosity. At no time do I intend to offend, judge or pretend to know anything really, I'm just an observer and explorer, as we all are. Feel free to "boldly go" through my observations and perhaps it will spark or inspire. Comments are off because I don't want to be worried about political correctness when I'm writing. I'm not thinking about "you." I'm just writing because it feels "right". Feel free to enjoy or surf on.
Fibber McGee's closet!