Often I notice myself cringing when asked the question, "How are you," or "Anything new going on?" I freeze, go blank, and make some last ditch comment about the weather or a busy work week. In those moments, I ignore my own authentic stories, the ones that really matter to me. I fear that the person asking won't appreciate them, or doesn't really want a detailed answer anyway. I assume that my stories are not interesting enough to catch the interest of someone else. And I compensate by turning the conversation around, and I start asking questions about the other person. Tricky move. It's safer to be in the listening seat. I find myself there often.
Why does that happen? Why do I lack confidence in my own stories? Does anyone else feel this way? How do we make safe space for each other to share our valuable experiences? These are questions that I ask myself. Obviously it isn't healthy to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and spill all your deepest thoughts to the entire universe. However, I think taking pride in personal experience, in daily life events, however small that they are, is something that is worthwhile. It makes me stop and think about how I approach others in conversation. Do I create safe space for others to share a humorous or significant detail that they would like to share from their lives? What am I missing out on when I don't take time to ask? Do I notice when it might not be a good time to ask... for example, striking up conversation with the person in the neighboring bathroom stall at the mall, might not be the best time. I'll still try to be socially appropriate. But hopefully a little braver. Life is much more interesting when we share anyway.