Angoel (angoel) wrote,
Angoel
angoel

Thinking Aloud[1] - Of Interesting Talks

There are a number of trite examples of Murphy's Law with trivial explanations; the fact that you're on the edge of the map being because 90% of the map is on the edge, the fact that you're in a slower queue being because one of the half dozen queues is invariably going to be faster. These examples, born of an observer effect, I've come to note with amusement, and dismiss any consequential irritation with a shake of my hand.

There is one area, however, which I've been unable to view with such equanimity, and that area is discussion. When talking with other people, I find it hard to escape the fact that everyone is more erudite, better informed, has given greater thought to and is just plain more interesting than me. They have exciting tales of daring do and fascinating jobs all over the country ... all over the world. I have tedious tales of my hum-drum life at home.

Even in areas in which I should have the knowledge and ideas to discuss things on an equal footing, I falter. My thoughts are full of holes and uncertainties. They are propped up with half-ideas that will not withstand the scrutiny that airing the thoughts will bring. They are ideas which are trivial and obvious to anyone with half a brain, or indefensible against anyone with the other half.

Of course, a lot of these are also due to observer effects; the fun and exciting foreign lives that I listen to with envy are but the edited highlights of people with as hum-drum a domestic position as myself. The ideas I find trivial may not be so to other people, and half-formed ideas may be correct or bring new insights in their dismissal. However, I don't think that this is the be-all and end-all of it.

The other side of the coin is the effort one puts in for the other party. I have a self-indulgent tendency - a desire for new and stimulating conversation, each discussion breaking new ground into different areas. I prize uniqueness and creativity. Each conversation I have is created for that particular audience, stories I tell worded once for that moment. I dislike leading people down well worn conversational tracks, jutting in with prepared dialogue at the least provocation. However, it also means that in groups I don't know people sufficiently - and even in groups that I do know but do not find myself able to gauge the appropriate conversation style, I stutter to a halt.

In the past, when thinking about small-talk, I've professed myself incapable of it, but shrugged off my concerns because I didn't want to become like some people I knew, going from person to person telling the same story, not quite remembering whether that person had heard it before. Thinking about it now, that feels less of an insult to the people than sitting around awkwardly, not entirely sure what one should be saying, not saying anything as a result. Maybe I should create some generic conversation, or even just find some topics I'm good at inanely rambling about to fill empty gaps. Ones which are more interesting to people than board game design.

I don't think I'm very good at that, though. Lack of practice, for some part. Natural reticence some more. But maybe the rest is just observer effect, too.

[1] Musings which are not fully formed and thus probably not correct - but which I'm inflicting on the world incomplete anyway. Feel free to attempt to realign my thoughts.
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