My Lack of Conversational Style

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Yesterday was my bi-weekly meeting with Sal, my therapist, and I had somewhat of a major breakthrough. It was more because of something he said rather than one of those “aha!” moments but it’s still one of the most important realizations I’ve had this year. He read several entries of my blog over the past couple of weeks and asked me why I don’t talk the way that I write. In my writing I’m very opinionated and confident whereas in my speech, it might sound strange to those of you who have never met me, I never state an opinion and remain ambiguous on everything because I’m that afraid of confrontation.

My lack of conversational skill is something that I’ve been aware of my whole life but I was never able to put my thumb on what exactly was wrong with me! I watched other people have intense, even positively intense, discussions with one another and I’ve never had that for myself. Conversations with people whom I’ve known even for years usually amount to “how was your day”, “good”, “okay talk to you soon”. Deeper conversations with good friends are really just them talking about themselves and me listening while occasionally saying “yup”.

I’m still not sure exactly what it is. It isn’t fear that causes my silence; I genuinely have no thoughts while I’m listening to other people. It’s like I’m so focused on what they’re saying and trying to understand where they’re coming from that my brain has no input on the matter at all. I suppose that this is what people mean when they say I’m a “good listener”. In the instances where I am thinking while someone is talking, it’s always because I’ve tuned them out accidentally. Once their line of thought has ended, I’m able to collect my thoughts and give a brief reflection on what they’ve said but it’s nothing like what I write here. I think that’s why I attract so many selfish, borderline narcissistic people. Our relationships are always one-hundred-percent about them.

So that’s going to be my focus moving forward. I have no idea how I’m going to become more opinionated or “speak as I write” as my therapist put it, but I’m going to have to figure it out if I want to grow. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I have no shortage of ideas and opinions, I just don’t think about them when other people are around. I’m sure it’s a learned behavior from always being shut down by people in my youth. I was always told I was stupid, gay, a loser, etc. when I raised my own opinions. I have a lot more confidence than I used to, though. I know that I am smarter than a lot of people, my life has been full of proof of that recently: straight A’s in college, endless promotions at every job I’ve had, the ability to pick up new hobbies and become relatively masterful in a matter of weeks… I’m not an idiot.

Now to help everyone else see that.