I deserve a medal for the time I…initiated small talk.
Initiating small talk is about as much fun as preparing for a colonoscopy.
— AnotherBottleofWhine (@KateWhineHall) September 17, 2013
So obviously, I hate initiating small talk. Who’s with me? What UP?! High fivers! Awkward small-talkers unite! Woo-hoo!
Anyway, I never know how to start a conversation. Are they going to think what I say is stupid? Will I offend them with my question? Will I sound like a narcissist?
And it doesn’t help that I get easily intimidated by people who appear to have their crap together…or people who are cool…or people that are attractive…or people that are funny…or people that are breathing.
The other day I sat next to a mom outside a classroom where our kids were taking a class. Here’s how it went down.
I walked in to where attractive, in-shape, 20-something mom was sitting.
She smiled back.
I sat down with that one-chair personal space buffer between us. Thank goodness she didn’t sit in the middle of the three chairs because how awkward is that when someone sits right next to you. Like when some weirdo has an entire movie theatre to sit in and they bring their jumbo-size bucket of buttered popcorn and extra-large Coke – that you know is going to cause a mid-movie bathroom run – and they sit in the chair right next to you. Those people are the real terrorists.
These were the thoughts that went through my head:
Well, this is awkward.
We’re just sitting here…all silent and stuff.
I should say something.
What do I say? I don’t have anything to say.
I can’t think of anything to say.
There’s nothing in my head. I have nothing to say! NOTHING!
Why do I always have to be the one to initiate? Why can’t she?
I’m a weenie.
No. I’m an introvert. It’s not natural for me to want to talk to people…right?
I’m a weenie.
You know what? I’m okay with being a weenie. I don’t really care. That’s the way God made me.
Whatever I say is going to sound stupid…or offensive. What if I say something offensive?
Why does she seem to be totally comfortable with this silence? Even smug. Is she doing this on purpose?
The weather? I could ask about the weather. No, lame.
Her kid? I could ask about her kid. I don’t care about her kid.
Gosh, she’s really clean. She totally showered. And she’s wearing make-up. I have nothing in common with this woman. I can’t remember when I last showered (I reached up to make sure my daughter’s hair clip was securely holding back my hair).
And then she broke the silence.
“So, how old is your daughter?” she asked.
“How old’s your son?” I returned.
“Cool.” I nodded and smiled.
“So, you adopted your children?” she asked with a smile.
And we had a five-minute conversation about adoption. It was great. But you know what? She did the initiating; she deserves the medal. But she’s probably an extrovert. Yeah, we’ll say she’s an extrovert. And as an introvert, I could have stopped at “She’s four,” and turned my body away so she wouldn’t talk to me anymore, like I usually do. But I kept the conversation going, so I totally deserve a medal for participation. Right?
So, what do you deserve a medal for?