If you’ve never heard of Matthew Hussey, you’re missing out. He focuses on teaching women what they’re doing wrong in relationships, but when I listened to some of his videos it struck me that the things he mentioned were things we should actually be doing for each other regardless of any romantic interest. Things like paying attention, noticing what people like and making the effort to show a kindness here and there.
This piece on conversation really reminded me of so many things. I despise small talk and I haven’t really taken the time to identify why. I’ve always found it boring and I thought about it after watching this video. Small talk is simply what you think you should be saying and talking about. You’re trying to impress someone and assess someone. Most of the time people don’t actually care about the answers, because if they did it wouldn’t be considered “small talk”, it would be finding out what the other person believes, likes, dislikes, and what they want to get out of life. For a long time I’ve been shy (might I even say fearful) about social situations because I hate small talk. When I attempt it, the situation seems painfully awkward, I get flustered, and wind up with both feet and maybe even a couple fists in my mouth. Now, interestingly enough, I put myself into the types of job which made me confront this fear over and over. Customer service jobs, some theatre, and multiple speech classes (although I will admit those were required). Seriously, you’ve done one speech class you’ve done them all. I know I can give a speech, I just don’t like it.
Then I wondered why starting conversations bothered me so much. I think it was due, in part, to a particularly mortifying musical display (piano) in which I was “booed” by a crowd of people who consisted mainly of middle school children and their parents. Perhaps you think that isn’t as bad as being booed off the stage at an actual legitimate performance, but at least you could tell yourself that the audience members were just idiots who didn’t know anything about music. The experience was painful. I loved to play piano, but I knew that I wasn’t ready. Unfortunately the music teacher disagreed and forced the performance.
Perhaps you’re wondering if I walked off the stage, if I dissolved into tears, or ran away to hide in the bathroom. Puh-lease. I was high school age, I think a freshman, but already suffering from insecurities about my acne. I knew I had a choice to make and I stayed on that stage, found my place in the music and kept going. I finished that song and I walked off the stage with my head high. You see, what they didn’t realize was that I play from memory. My music was there in front of me, but I can’t read music very well and by that I mean practically at all. I had Bach’s 5th Invention completely memorized. I remind myself of that when I begin to feel pathetic at being booed by a pack of children with seemingly more musical talent in their pinkie fingers. Additionally, my college piano teacher was surprised that I had even attempted the piece, saying that she reserved it for Juniors and was amazed that I had memorized the entire thing. I had memorized the piece in the eighth grade. It took that college professor’s different perspective to see my achievement for what it actually was.
This is a roundabout piece, but the reason I’m recalling that incident is that I am privy to the same old perspectives. I wasn’t always shy, but somewhere along the way I decided that silence was the only option. It’s funny that I came across the Matthew Hussey videos at this time, because I’ve recently been contemplating my shyness. I’ve actually had a lot of successful interactions in my life. I sold cookies in Girl Scouts, and I don’t mean that I gave the form to my Mom so she could pass it around at work. I went door-to-door, calling upon strangers to help me meet my sales goals. I sold candy bars for the French club, conducted a science survey, asked out my prom date when I found out I was going to be the only single girl at our table (he said yes btw), and would usually be hired for any job if I got an interview. I was proud of the rejections I received when I submitted a manuscript for a children’s story I had composed, because it showed I was doing something I valued, and every rejection letter was a step closer to an acceptance letter and the rest of my future.
In light of all these successes, it seems that my fear is irrelevant and highly illogical. Does that make you think of Spock? Anyway, I’ve had overwhelmingly positive responses for my endeavors, including multiple awards for regional high school acting competitions. I don’t know when I became so full of fear, but I think I know why. It’s the perspectives. I am not around someone with overwhelmingly positive perspectives and that can be really damaging. Now that I know that, it’s important for me to remind myself that I don’t need to care about what people will think of me. Already been booed while performing on stage, by people who were a few years younger than myself. Realistically, it probably isn’t going to get much worse than that, and I’ve already been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Oh wait, I didn’t make myself a t-shirt. That’s the problem! Anyway, if you’re not happy with how your life is going, it’s time to change your perspective. Find some new people, a helpline, pastor, priest, family member or someone objective who can help you see the situation a little more clearly. Things may not be as bad as they seem. There’s also something I remembered from many years ago, and that is that people often mistook my shyness for snobbishness. That was something I had never anticipated, and it can help get you out of your shy shell to remember that your shyness may be hurting people’s feelings. So this year, I’m going to take a page from the old, much smarter, me and re-pledge to try and live a life without regrets while I live in the moment. It gets tougher when you’re older, but I think it’s even more important the older you get. If you’re shy too, check out the vids below for a different perspective.