How do you approach others when you have personal questions? Surely it varies depending on the length of time you’ve known someone, i.e. how comfortable you are being with, or chatting with, said person, yes? But what about the awkward questions – the deep cuts into one’s life, I mean? How do you ask that?
I’ve always been a decent listener for others to share their stories and histories with – and it really makes me happy to learn more of someone’s life, even if I’m not necessarily a part of it. Perhaps people feel I’m trustworthy, too, because I have been told some STORIES, my friends. Some not so believable (these mostly live in my college years, but really, who’s completely honest when they’re 18-22 years old?). Others are heartbreaking and life-changing or otherwise altogether normal; I listen, absorb and build a bigger photograph of the author in my mind. Sometimes it’s not a great picture but no one is perfect and that’s a rule I live my life by. But…and this is where the awkwardness lives…the image of someone can change quickly if the comfort level isn’t there yet, and that’s where I struggle when it comes time for me to divulge to others.
Because I can listen to a million tales and never tire of them if I feel a closeness or trust with someone (though, I do trust easily, which has been a curse all my life). But do they share the same views of me? If I tell a story related to the incredibly important #metoo movement, will it put them off because it’s too much, too real, too soon? Or will they offer comfort in exchange or possibly even share a similar experience? I don’t know. I just know that I am never fully sure when I open my mouth with a hearty question or response on my tongue.
I believe it’s this strange imbalance in my head because I love authenticity with friends (and the like) but afraid that if I’m too much of that, they’ll hightail it and never look back. Again, it comes down to my valuing honesty and loathing vagueness equally. I want the breaking news but also page 18 information because otherwise the story is nothing more than boastful and the person isn’t being their true self. I’ve come to recognize these patterns in conversation because of how often I listen to others versus taking over the floor. And I do appreciate that skill. But when it’s time for me to speak, I either falter or go mute on account of thoughts far too deep or personal to approach.
Does that make me weird to want this with others? Or am I’m simply the psychoanalytical type and crave information to map out a person’s life for some odd unseen benefit? That doesn’t feel right even writing it, so perhaps not. I just wish I could share all the things without the fear of judgement. Or worse, as soon as I have shared, avoid the regret that swamps, coming on like a stab of ice through my throat. I question if my words were over the top or an over share for them to hear as a whole; eventually those fears subside if I have enough chats and they stick around. It’s that holding period of “getting to know you” that frightens the most. This usually happens with most folks in my life by the way, because I was gifted with the tragic heart-on-my-sleeve birthright.
So, what you see IS what you get. But there is more, too. And that lives in the space between here and there, where you (the reader) are.