WHY CAN’T I DO SMALL TALK?!

bigtalk

Do you ever get so excited about something that your nose starts to tickle, your eyes start to water a little bit and you really, really want to make this sound: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

This is not a rhetorical question. I’m seriously interested, so please leave a comment under this one, pleaseyesthankyouverymuch.

I get so light in the head over things I’m passionate about that I sometimes wonder if it’s normal. Knowing me, it probably isn’t. But I can’t help it and in a way, I’m only half embarrassed by it. The other half… is the nose-tickling feeling all over again.

Teachers and lecturers frequently overlook my stretched out hand and ask things like “Maybe anybody else has an opinion about this?” over my head. Last time that happened was half a day into a one-week fulltime course. Three hours after meeting me the lecturer was already fed up with my contributions to the class. Three. Hours.

I wasn’t hugely unpopular in high school, you know. Not outside of the classroom. In the classroom, some people passionately hated me. I passionately didn’t give a rat’s ass. I simply can’t help myself; I just get superduperexpicalifragilistically excited over stuff.

Vegetarianism, paintings, the water theme in Effie Briest, participatory research, the idea that constant growth is a majorly unintelligent concept in a world of limited resources, this TED talk, the physiological merits of a vegan diet, why my generation is so accepting of narcissism, circular economies, the combination of mint and peas… all these are topics that I was – more or less politely – asked to shut up about.

I always accepted that, because I know that a big part of my inability to do small talk is that I love to hear myself sound smart, something we Germans call “Geltungsdrang” (transl.: need for admiration. God, I love the German language sometimes. The direct translation would be “prestige-urge”. Makes my nose tickle.). That isn’t my nicest attribute and I fully understand that people find me majorly annoying for it.

There’s more to it, though, because my nose also tickles when I’m by myself. Sometimes so badly, that I   n e e d   to share my excitement somehow and that’s when I usually start crying in the Louvre  writing.

Some of my friends kinda get it, some ra-ha-ha-ha-heeeally don’t. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Graemer-Clan! If I had a dollar for every time one of you guys looked at me ironically or rolled their eyes at me for raising a not-so-pleasant topic… one day I’ll räch myself for it… hrngffzpk)

Anyways, everyone I know has made fun of me for it at some point. Which is fine. I’d be a huge douchebag if it weren’t for that. I just wonder if I’m really alone with that urge or if others feel it, too. And if yes, of course, everybody feels it, they’re  just much better at containing it, HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?!

pigmarxrosieiknouuu pig2  pizza

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33 thoughts on “WHY CAN’T I DO SMALL TALK?!

  1. Sometimes I don’t delve into those discussions because my opinions aren’t as well formulated as yours and I don’t want to make a half-argument that is so easy to rip down it detracts from a good message. Which I guess is laziness, really. But mostly I’m just too much of a scaredy-cat to put myself out there and my impulse to have everything run smoothly and devoid of conflict outweighs my impulse to scratch my nose-tickle with a good debate. ALSO, that day on course was TOTALLY a reflection of certain other class members not contributing enough, not you contributing too much!

    • Laziness I get- boy have I been lazy about the vegetarianism thing sometimes. But then lazy is sometimes also saving some energy needed elsewhere, eh? Insecurity- I definitely feel that to, sometimes to the point that I want to first crawl under my desk and then say what I think from down there. Obviously, you’d have no more reason than I do, to be insecure, you smart little cookie! I guess I have to thank my parents for putting me in my fist job-interview-like situation when I was about 5. Makes you overcome insecurities, for sure. Thanks so much for this comment- absolutely illuminating! Awkwardly I have to admit that the same thing happened at ANOTHER block course last week. Thanks for making me feel better about the first one, though!!! 😀

  2. Hahaha, love the octopus behind the door…
    I do know the feeling but probably in a lighter version. though you would probably be surprised how many times I got into similar situations to the one you described in the past year. of course I always pray there’s no panda around…

    • Yea, those Pandas are so sneaky. You get all puffed up about something and then they make one sarcastic comment and pffffffff- all the air goes out of your nice, pink opinion-bubble. Oooooooooh M G I can’t wait to sit with you and a bottle of wine on a NZ beach and have some solid nose-tickle-conversations in a completely Panda-free zone!!!

  3. I’ve never had cause to analyse my own conversation style, so thanks for the opportunity 😉 I love passionate debates, but I also *like* small talk.

    I really sympathise with Gemma’s comment that sometimes it’s just nice to keep things easy and comfortable, and not confrontational – but also, I don’t like talking AT people. If someone’s willing to join in and give their opinion (whether they agree or not), then thats cool. But if they look at me with glazed eyes, what do I get out of it? Also, small talk is one of my ways of ‘stopping to smell the roses’ – its an acknowledgement of the little things in life that make it good. I’d die of a heart attack by the age of 35 if I got passionately angry 50 times a day when talking to people. For me, I really need a balance – if I engage too little in conversations about the topics that make my eyes water, I start feeling empty – equally, I like discussing favourite animals, and whether Ryan Gosling looks better in Crazy Stupid Love, or in Drive? (I mean, the latter IS a pretty important conversation to have in its own right.. 😉 ).

    • That’s a nice way of describing it- smelling the roses. Though, I have to say, sometimes the roses make my nose tickle like crazy and then I feel the need to use big words to analyze WHY they make it tickle (sometimes overlooking the obvious fact that I’m allergic or something). I probably will die of a heart attack at 50, I guess… sometimes it’s about the confrontation, but sometimes it really is only about the expression, so, yes, I guess I do get something out of it, even when eyes glaze over… Definitely had very satisfying conversations with my 7 year old nephew about capitalism, that made insanely happy and left him profoundly confused… hmhm… all very interesting. Thanks hon-aaaay! Tonight, when I come back from the library, I want to finally figure that Ryan Gosling thing out. Then I’ll make dinner. Then we watch GOT. Can. Not. Wait.

  4. I love the picture when you’re shouting at your little friends :). And the last one, when you are determined to think about pizza, and ONLY pizza (the expression on you face, trying so hard, hahahaha). Seriously, please don’t change. I’d rather have not being able to talk about pizza than not being able to think.

  5. Small talk for the sake of small talk – ie. my daughter did this this weekend, did you see the VMA, don’t you think (insert celebrity) is (insert judging adjective) – is something I just can’t stand. Idle, pointless talk really frustrates me to no end! So that type of small talk, I can’t do 😛

    I loveeeeee talking about bigger issues like religion, politics, capitalism, consumerism, economics, etc etc but I have an incredibly small number of friends who are interested in any talk like that. And sometimes they even get tired of wanting to talk any deeper or further. So it can be incredibly frustrating not being able to have real meaningful discussions on a regular basis!

    So I think your drawings sum it up pretty much about right for me. I’m bursting at the seams to have deep, meaningful conversations on (what I believe are fundamentally) really important things we should be discussing. Rather than who Justin Bieber is or that snuff piece of news that was on the local news last night (oh that kitty was saved from a tree…. WHO THE F*** CARES!?!?).

    True example. I don’t have cable. I never watch the news. I read it online (BBC yay!) but never watch. Anyways, there are TVs in our gym at our condo. The only thing playing for over an hour on Canada’s national news station was how one of the younger “rising” politicians smoked pot. I wanted to pull my hair out. Then people small talk about that and I want to shout at them “WHY!?!?!”

    But then, I would get the “umm yeah, you’re weird” comment. Gah! 😀

    Also, gotta say, this is one of the best blogs I’ve come across 🙂 🙂

    • Hahahaha, I love how excited you got in this comment 😀 Thanks so much, I can really tell that I’m not the only one who has a tickling nose! All those RAAH! WAAAh! GAAAH! moments I had in the back of my head while keeping a straight face and listening to detailed descriptions of NOTHING AT ALL… I feel you, partner! Thanks so much for stopping by and making such awesome comments!

  6. Awesome, you took the words right out of my mouth! I also love to hear myself sound smart. But instead of “Geltungsdrang” I suggest “Mitteilungsbedürfnis”. Sounds more positive. Thanks for writing this…and by the way: Effi Briest sucks. Just saying.

    • Effi Briest d o e s suck. It’s like written to teach school kids how to put all possible in-your-face metaphors and obvious Leitthemen in one book and get away with it by choosing a touchy societal topic. Let’s talk about that some more when you visit NZ 🙂

  7. Haha, I’ve randomly cried out of sheer passion for a topic before. It’s awkward for all involved.

    As a teacher, I have to interact with over a hundred big and small people (size and age-wise) each day. I’ve had to practice holding my opinions for those conversations when all parties have agreed to keep an open mind and actually learn something. Not all conversations start off as that. A lot of times I can figure out early on if someone is just looking for small talk, to exert their brilliance/authority, or to get their specific need met or problem solved. Exploring issues in depth is something I love to do too, but I know now that it’s a gift when I can do that with people I trust who can maintain the same level of flexibility. Sometimes it takes the small talk to get to the juicier stuff.

    One of the reason I love blogging is that it cuts through all of the nice, introductory social scripts. But what would it be like if we all met in person?

    Btw, I love that TED talk too! and pizza.

  8. LOVE this. Hahahaha… When I read the title, I immediately thought: oh god, that’s me. I can’t do small talk either and it really bothers me sometimes! But as I read on, I noticed that your problem is different than mine. You see, I don’t have strong opinions on many subjects, and when there’s a discussion going I usually flow with the direction the conversational partner is issuing. I actively hate myself for it because I don’t wanna be a suckup, but I am such a people pleaser that I do it without really thinking about it. I find it easier than having my own opinion most of the time.
    The thing that makes me unable to do small talk, is the fact that I always want to talk about deep interesting life questions and thorough analysis of somebody’s personality. And if one thing’s a conversation killer, it’s talking about your deepest fears and worst flaws five minutes after meeting somebody. This is what I do. Maybe I’ll remember the pizza conversation for next time I’m in this situation. 😉

    • Oooh, don’t hate yourself for it! We all do it, or the reasons why we don’t do it aren’t all so positive either! Hitting people around the head with your strong opinions can also be a way of showing off, getting your power-flash of the day, etc. But yea, I guess it’s still important to practice that sometimes to be prepared for the times, when it’s crucial to contradict someone. Still, just because you like to keep things on the warm and fuzzy side most of the time, doesn’t mean you have no opinions! The fact that you’re so interested in the deep stuff is kind of an opinion already: skip the bullshitting, I don’t care of you’re feelings about the weather, gimme the real stuff! I have that attitude, too, and the more I travel and the more dependent I become of quickly evolving, but still meaningful and deep relationships, the more I’m happy to ignore the people that have a problem with it. Because it’s worth it for the people that don’t 🙂 Kindof what I said in ‘Sharing is Caring’…

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