On occasion, I wonder if spending a hefty amount of time alone is a bad thing. As an introvert of sorts, it feels natural to stay alone, but I always have a slight desire to throw myself out there; sometimes, I don’t know how to.
My Facebook and other forms of textual communications’ usage have skyrocketed since I arrived in Boston. I go to tech meetups and an occasional seminar, talk to my coworkers, and maybe help an elderly lady extract her bike from a metal loop (I had no idea how she got it in there in the first place.). Very few of my conversations last longer than fifteen minutes.
That is, until recently, when I noticed how few words I spoke a day. In the midst of a long talk with an old but new friend, I realize how much I envy one-on-one conversation. I have had the pleasure of talking, one-on-one, with multiple people for a cumulative time of probably over ten hours in the past two days. If you’re one of those reading this, thank you.
We may not have discussed the most interesting topics or delved deep into the fascinating enigma that is the human psyche, but I have learned so much. I don’t even mean in terms of specific subjects or facts; I learn more about myself. People too.
I am not a good conversationalist.
I haven’t read too much into the research in the subject, as I don’t think it’s a big research field, but I hypothesize that conversation enhances other areas of the brain. Perhaps it just helps you think on your feet since conversation, especially one-on-one, is immediate. If you actively try, you can practice getting creative or trying new phrases out. It’s all improvisation.
I noticed this in an odd coincidence but spontaneous desire. After a long night of discussion, I came home dead tired. I honestly should have gone to sleep, because I felt horrible this morning, but I spontaneously decided to dance. It was an ideal time, because, for some reason, at midnight, none of my roommates were home. Turn up LCD Soundsystem. I usually dance, get a little creative, train my old concepts, and maybe devise some new moves in my freestyles. This time was different. I had no idea what I was doing, but it felt awesome; it felt fresh. I had never actively done any of what I laid down yesterday night. I may have looked dumb as hell, but I felt cool as hell. It had to be due to the conversation; conversation enhanced my creativity and confidence. Dance, I realize, is a conversation itself.
It’s true, people do the weirdest things in conversation, and, if they are presented in a certain manner, those actions will get accepted happily with laughter and whatnot (this is someone else’s observation. if you’re reading this, you’re a hipster.). I catch myself saying completely pointless things, but most of the time it’s just brushed off with laughter or accepted as an actual thought. For example, one thing that I plan on eradicating from my conversation is validating what somebody just said by repeating, “[subject] IS [description].” I guess it may be rewarding to the person I am talking to by acknowledging that I agree with them, but when I notice myself saying it, the words just sound like padding. I could much more easily say, “I agree.”
“He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.”
– Chinese proverb
I am trying to limit myself to solely contributing valuable ideas to conversations. Listening is the best part of conversation. Why waste breath with padding words?
An idea sparked my interest a while back regarding a system to help you experiment every day. I may still pursue the project considering I have found new light. The idea is to consistently, actively alter your actions by experimenting with a little aspect of your life every day. This could be in the form of solely talking to a new person or editing an aspect of your speech. It wouldn’t be limited to speech related actions; you could edit the way you walk or how you sit… anything. I firmly believe that these micro-experiments can help you learn more about all of the interactions around you.
Back to the point, though.
I was becoming lonely. I felt like I had no need talk to around here, since I could easily resort to technology for friends. I love how we can all still be connected, but sometimes we take it too much for granted. We are made to express and interact. It’s hard to do that through a screen. Conversation is not something to be taken lightly since it’s so accessible; you just have to talk to somebody. We tend to consider all of these materialistic, measurable goals as vital to our happiness. However, in the end, talking to people is probably the single most important aspect of our lives.
“If you’re afraid of what you need
Look around you, you’re surrounded
It won’t get any better.”
– LCD Soundsystem