Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Here's something about growing up...

I've had so many conversations recently that touch on the idea that meeting new people has somehow become tortuously awkward. I certainly feel this way, which is a somewhat new experience for me, as I've always been pretty extroverted and comfortable in social situations. Now, though, I become anxious at the thought of trying to have a decent, non-awkward conversation with someone I don't know. What on earth to I have to say to someone who doesn't already know me?

I'll be... over here.
Something else I've realized, and I don't really know if this is connected to the first thing I was talking about, (but I wouldn't be surprised if it is) is that somehow at the cusp of "adulthood" we stopped asking each other what we liked, and started asking each other what we do. As kids and teenagers, I feel like given the understanding that we were all in school, I remember trying to connect on our actual interests. We're all already sitting at the lunch table after class, so let's get into who we actually are and talk a bit about what else we have going on in our lives.

Now, though, I can bet that 99% of the time, our opening line to each other is, "So, what do you do?" And I get it. Presumably, our jobs or career pursuits take up the majority of our conscious hours, so it makes sense to start there. And that's not to mention that if you're trying to date someone, finding out what they do is treated like a good shorthand for intellectual (and economic) compatibility.

But ugh, god. I suspect that even if you are lucky enough to be really passionate about your job, it still isn't what you talk about with your friends most of the time. No, you're probably talking about other things you enjoy, common interests you have as friends, things that you've done together, good times you've shared -- most of which were not based on your mutual appreciation of your job.

I feel like part of the reason that we corner ourselves into these really stilted, awkward conversations is because right off the bat, we're asking strangers about, potentially, the most boring thing about them. How could we possibly expect to be interesting and interested in each other if the standard opening line is "What is that thing you do all day that you can't wait to get home from?"

So... what is more awkward? Continuing to have that forced dialogue about our extremely scintillating day jobs, or bucking that social norm and starting off the conversation on a different foot? Well, I think I am going to try the latter for awhile, and I'll get back to you.

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