dark and terrible trials (small talk)
I was at the hair salon this past week. This is very few and far between for me, because I kind of...avoid going to the hair salon.
As ridiculous as it sounds, you could say that I fear the hair salon.
Not because I don't enjoy having my hair done! (Though I do try to go less often than I'm technically 'supposed to' for maintenance or whatever, because - woof - it does take a toll on my bank account 1).
No, my biggest hurdle when booking the appointment is mentally preparing myself for the alloted hours of small talk.
Small talk. My nemesis. My most hated enemy.
I don't know when it grew into this thing that I avoid so religiously! (Ugh - probably part of why I'm so terrible about going out and making new friends, upon reflection. Stick that one in the 'to examine later' bundle.) I am absolutely, categorically terrible at it.
And before you say, "Well, it might just be something you need to practice to get better at..." Noooooooooo, please, I am trying so hard, I need you to believe me! I am really, really trying.
I have googled 'small talk topics', I have looped myself into random conversations and just gone for it, I have tried, like, a bunch of stuff. The results? Nothing, nada, zilch. I am just as terrible as I was before I tried these things - only now I have the real, repeated experience of flubbing it again and again! Help!!!
It's like I get into the conversation and I draw a perfect blank - I flip through all of the possible topics I could jump into and totally freeze up.
I get worried that I'm going to ask something that makes the other person uncomfortable or that they'll think the topic I bring up is so dumb that we'll have to sit in silence for the rest of the interaction. (This has never happened, but as my brain loves to remind me: there's a first time for everything. We're still working on knocking this particular worry out of the synapse tree.)
So, I open my mouth to just talk about media or something simple and safe and, suddenly, I can't think of movies I've seen or books I've read. Or I get so embarassed thinking about bringing up the ones that do pop into my mind 2, I just don't bring anything up at all.
So, is small talk just a skill? Then why can't I hone it, like any other thing? I just keep fucking it up, even though I've had so many opportunities to practice!
I mean, maybe this is another case of feeling like I have nothing interesting to say. If so, is that a ravine I need to jump before I can improve at small talk? Or will practicing small talk eventually reinforce that maybe I do have something interesting to say?
Are they even separate issues at all? Am I sure it's not just anxiety under a fake-glasses-&-mustache disguise? And if they are their own entities, are they just corresponding over a tin-can-line connection in the tangled knot of my mind? Awful!
...This may be something I have to mull over for a bit. I do wish answers were a little more forthcoming. Instead, I'm just populating more questions. For now, I’ll keep trying (with varying results). I suppose that’s all I can do.
Good luck out there,
• • • • • • • •
Listen, I'm totally willing to pay the toll when I do go! It is an art - stylists are, like, hair chemists (this may not be accurate, but the only other word I can think of right now is wizard). I have a LOT of respect for my hair stylist. She is a gem and she does incredible work. Just, incredible work that my wallet can only handle so often. (And I mainly do it more as a refresh every once and awhile, and for something fun and confidence-boosting!)↩
I read and watch a lot of stuff that I have found, over the years, isn't of much interest to the general public and I tend to have a hard time getting into popular media. My brain is a fickle creature and sometimes won't let me start a show or a book, even if I really, really want to. Sometimes I do get into a book or show that's widely beloved...years later (sad trombone whomp whomp).↩