I hate small talk. There, I said it. And I don’t think it’s because I have locubrevisphobia (fear of small talk).
I can think of countless times I have had to engage in small talk…from torturous fellowshipping at church, to chatting with moms at school functions and sports events, to business networking events which honestly I’ve only managed to bring myself to once! It kinda feels like hell to an introvert, specifically an INFJ. I have even found the ideal hair stylist and massage therapist based on their comfort with silence and ability to share on a deeper level.
I loathe when small talk takes a superficial, fake, chatty turn. Often, I just choose to opt out, at the cost of looking stuck up and unfriendly, which is the farthest from the truth. I just want authenticity, depth and a little vulnerability. Is that too much to ask?
Don’t get me wrong, I love humor, witty banter and light-hearted moments. I like talking about things that don’t matter. And I can be downright silly and highly inappropriate. But mostly, I prefer there be at least some chance of substance, depth and meaning–in a vulnerable and authentic kind of way.
In reality some people are not worthy of sharing this vulnerability with and I just don’t like to engage in small talk with them. I don’t expect to become best friends or get job offers or immediate connections through small talk. I just don’t want to waste my energy!
As a licensed clinical social worker, I don’t really do much small talk. In fact, it’s big talk. A counseling session creates sacred, hopefully non-judgemental space for others to share their vulnerabilities, challenges and struggles. Sessions are filled with laughter and amusement, tears and raw emotions, feelings that are uncomfortable. But it’s real, authentic and gritty. I love it. Even when I’ve been on the other side of the couch!
All of this reminds me of Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s writing The Invitation: http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human. It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’ It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
I suppose small talk is a necessary evil living in an extroverted world. Being able to chit chat with someone can form a surface feeling of connection much like a ?or “follow” on social media. It does help when feeling lonely or isolated. Small talk can serve as a vehicle to connection, offering an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship. It gives a person a chance to see if someone is worthy of showing vulnerability and trust. Small talk is the beginning of relationship and the way of the world we live in. I just wish it wasn’t so. Any others like me out there?