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When Talking Gets Tough + Friends Who Practical Joke

June 24, 2014
It’s true. Cleo thought it was super uncool of me to tell you all this story, but hey- it is what it is, and I’m hoping I’m not alone on this one here. 
So here is my question: Do you ever feel like the more you write, the less you’re able to talk? Or, do you ever feel like you’re just naturally horrible at small talk? I don’t know what it is, I really don’t, but ever since I started this blog and writing more frequently, it’s like I’ve forgotten how to verbally express myself… or even have normal human conversations.
Last weekend, I was at a women’s event (more on this later!) and it occurred to me how awkward I’ve become in the last couple months when it comes to introducing myself to others. Here I was, mingling with other gals, making small talk (which is kind of weird anyway, am I right?), and I’m telling you- I. was. struggling. I couldn’t even say my name without fumbling over it, and then after each time I’d say it, I’d point to the name tag on my shirt. So, you know, just in case no one could understand me, they could read. It was SO awkward and weird, which- you know how that works… you say one weird or awkward thing and then the whole rest of the conversation is just downhill from there and you suddenly realize you have no idea what to do with your hands so you begin just waving them all over the place while you talk. You know?! 
I then began talking about the amount of rain we’d been getting. (Yes, I went there. Weather talk. The worst.) and then I just kept talking about the rain. Only… I was talking in broken sentences. ABOUT RAIN. And in about 3.7 seconds, it was to the point where I just wanted to crawl under the table and hide. (But I didn’t… which is good. Because then it really would have been awkward and weird.) 
How does this happen!? I don’t know if it’s the writing to blame or not but maybe there really is something to being forced to carry on with a “stranger” via small talk. I think my heart and soul desires deeper conversations with people – yes, even people I’ve just met – but you can’t really just walk up to someone at a women’s get-together and ask, “So tell me all about your life and your dreams and your goals! Tell me about your thoughts on Michael Bolton!” Right? It’s kiiiinda creepy. Well fortunately for me, Ellen was recently talking about the awkwardness of small talk and how she now makes a mental list of things to talk about in place of small talk. I kind of love this idea. 
So to start practicing, I have given the following questions to my sweet friend, Anne, who is also one of my fabulous sponsors this month!! I’m not one to boast but I think the questions were a hit, and I fully plan on using some of these for my next would-be awkward small talk encounter. (And don’t for one second think I nixed that MB question.)

Anne blogs over at Love the Here and Now. Reasons to love Anne and her blog? LOTS. She’s genuine, funny, positive, has the sweetest little family, and whether she’ll admit it or not, she’s a future master DIY’er. (Seriously. Check out her latest – a Pallet Bar. AMAZING.) BUT- one of my favorite things about Anne is how she and her friends pull practical jokes on each other. If this is something you might like to do with your friends, she gives some pretty great (aka: hilarious) ideas below.
In no particular order: Sarcastic (totally inherited from my father), friendly, emotional (things bother me, wish I was more the type to let things roll off my back), and reserved (until you get to know me, at that point you may wish we were still just acquaintances.) 
Blogging. I’d love to do it full time. Think about it… I’d spend my days writing, creating, DIY’ing, reading other blogs, commenting, interacting with other bloggers, forming friendships, pinning things on Pinterest, Instagramming, and Tweeting. Sign me up for full time, please!

Don’t kill me for this and I swear this was before Frozen, but the best advice I have been given is to “let it go.” I’m a worrier. I spent precious time worrying about things that have happened and things to come. I have no control over either and I need to just let things go. If it’s over and done with, I can’t change it. If it’s yet to happen, why waste time even thinking about it? All easier said than done but it’s so true. 
A day with nothing on the schedule, a day that I can do whatever it is I want. That could be something with my family, friends, or myself. Days with no obligations and a blank slate are the best (and oh so rare). 
Easy: my daughters. I want to be seen as a great example on how to live your life and how to live it well. Sure, I make mistakes. We all do. Children learn by example. They inspire me to be the best that I can be and to be the type of person I want them to emulate. 
Relax. At times you feel that you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You don’t. Let yourself have fun, let yourself be in the moment. Your childhood has been ideal. You have the love and support of your family; don’t be afraid to be adventurous and try new things. Someone will always have your back. You are not alone. Just relax and don’t shy away from the unknown. 
The cliches are 100% true; time flies when you’re having fun and your children grow up faster than you could ever believe. Savor it all. Thanks to starting your family young, you have so much time ahead of you (hopefully) to spend with your husband and fall in love all over again. Embrace the years ahead of you. 
  • Blogging Tips 101. I’m kind of in awe that a relatively new blogger such as myself had tips to share that others found useful. I love reading others’ blogging tips and inevitably I find something new to try. 
  • Who’s In Your Tribe? Having support from other bloggers is key as a blogger. My blogging friends have made all the difference in my experience. 
My thoughts on Michael Bolton… well he can certainly sing a love song. But honestly, when you say Michael Bolton I think of hair. And Fabio because he had long hair like that too. You asked… I answered.
I could tell you about my mom but I already did here. Or, I could tell you about my husband, but again, I have done that here. So instead I’ll tell you about my other best friends. We all met through our kids. Clearly we had a lot in common but over the years we have become so close. We get together for drinks and relax and laugh; always laugh. We are the type of friends where every summer means we show our love in pranks, always trying to outdo each other. Past pranks include (but are not limited to): toilet papering their homes, setting up old washing machines on their front lawn with landscaping around it (yes, we bought flowers and small shrubs to make it look extra pretty), hanging laundry lines across front yards with bras and underwear on display, toilets have been known to show up on doorsteps, and we love to throw parties on your deck when you are away (no worries… we send pictures to you as it’s happening so you don’t feel like you are missing out.)

Every fall, my friends and I head to NYC for a night – a much needed getaway for us moms. This picture was taken a few years ago during what NYC was calling a “blizzard.” (I’m on the right.) Just look at the amount of snow: minimal, and this was taken in deserted Times Square! Don’t we look lovely “braving” the elements – which really was just flurries and no wind! I love this picture because A.) Yes, I am a wife and a mom but the role of a friend is something I love and take seriously too, and B.) it reminds me to take what life throws you with a grain of salt and to laugh.

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  • Emily, I don't know if it has anything to do with blogging – although I do think that we as a generation / people / whatever have gotten used to communicating via unspoken word. Texts and emails replace phone calls 99% of the time, facebook comments, tweets…we just live so much more virtually these days that when we are face to face with a live human being, especially one with whom we haven't broken the ice yet, it is really difficult to figure out how to start! Generalisation maybe, but I definitely feel it! There are those who can talk to anyone – my husband, the stereotypical Irishman who can chat to absolutely anyone without problem, and my bestie, who would talk to a wall at a party if nobody else were around 😉 – they are amazing and I aspire to be more comfortable around strangers like they are.

    And Anne, oh my goodness, those pranks are hilarious! Sounds like a group of really great friends 🙂 (The snow that shuts down NYC is just mental, isn't it?? 18 inches routinely in Rochester and I'd still have to go to school. Snow days? What?)

  • I'm not exactly shy, but when I'm in a room full of people I tend to clam up too. I'm opinionated when I know the person but otherwise I don't always know where to start! My husband is much better at starting conversations.

  • Ok, this post is perfection. I am TERRIBLE at small talk. An email to a brand new person? I'm golden…but small talk? Its going to be the end of me.

    Also, I love Anne! I met her through Grateful Heart and she's so sweet….I have to complete agree with her thoughts on MB…when I hear his name, I picture Fabio…sorry if that is offensive to you. haha

  • I used to be TERRIBLE at small talk. I was never shy to walk up to someone and introduce myself, but to carry a conversation, forget it. Now, I think I'm doing okay. Working as a bell-woman you spent about 5-10 minutes with a quest and part of that time is in an elevator. HAWKWARD. I have my go-to questions for sure. It's sad, but it's something I got better at with practice..who would have thought I needed to practice talking?

    P.S. love Anne's answers!! and the NYC blizzard, haha!!

  • I am terrible at small talk sometimes. Like, in situations like you were in I would be terrible at it. Meeting new people at work…I'm GREAT at small talk. First dates…terrible. It's situationl. But always embarrasing when I'm terrible at it. 🙂

  • Oh gosh, me + small talk = arch enemies. I think it has a lot to do with our generation growing up on computers… we tend to type communication more than speak it. Texts + emails are usually preferred over phone calls + in person chats. I don't know if that's what causes it, but in person, I am terrible at small talk. I think within 3-5 minutes, it’s so obvious that I’m bored + just nodding my head along. After 10,000 “Oh really?” and “How cool!” comments, I tend to kinda give up + just clam up, haha. I fall over my words too + just want to run away because it feels so pointless. I wish we did live in a world where we could ask perfect strangers deeper topics, like we all talk about + reflect on in the blogging world!

  • Small talk is hard – but I've found if you just keep asking the person about themselves, they'll keep talking and you can just chime in here and there. People love to talk about themselves!

    And I love Anne. I'm pretty sure I need to try some of these pranks on my friends – especially the party in their backyard one!

  • Haha! I cracked up at the whole scene I was picturing during that first part of this post. I never know whether or not to include my blogging with small talk. Its not a full time thing for me, yet it is a fun part of who I am that I want to share with people. But then there is a whole lot of explaining to do for most people (who generally have very little idea what a blog is) so do I really want to go through all that? I go back and forth about this all the time, in my head.

    • TOTALLY!!! It's so weird to try and explain to a non-blogger that 1.) blogging is a real thing and 2.) we bloggers "know" each other even though we've never met… and it's not (too) weird.

  • this cracked me up…because I can completely relate. I love blogging because I'm not great at face to face convos, unless I'm with my closest friends and family. I'm super introverted, so blogging is great for me because I can pour out my heart and not have to say anything to anyone's face. Because seriously, I always say the wrong thing in person.

  • Bahahahahah… weather talk IS the worst!!!!

  • Cat

    Yes, me too and that awkward silence when no one is talking, yikes!

  • Oh my gosh… I hate small talk. Major introvert. 🙂 Talking for the sake of talking is just exhausting… It's all I can do to continue a verbal, in-depth conversation, say with my husband, when we really need to talk, and then I have to take a break after due to lack of energy. I really just prefer communicating electronically, and I don't even like talking on the phone I've discovered. But now that I've starting really getting into blogging, it's like, do I talk about that in the real world? Or…? It's gotten to where I'll just refer to it like in passing, like they know exactly what I'm talking about, and just hope that's the case. 😉

  • If it makes you feel better – I am a bumbling nightmare when it comes to meeting people. I don't know what it is but I just get so nervous. I EVEN get nervous right before I go home or see friends. It's some weird anxiety thing! You totes aren't alone here!

  • GIRL, you are absolutely not alone. I such a small talk and a lot of the time rather just not talk at all (plus I'm a introvert so there goes all hope)!

  • Emily,
    I'm so glad you shared this! I totally know what you mean. I have a theory: As writers & storytellers we tend to desire those deeper connections and conversations from the get-go. Not necessarily because we want to write about them (maybe sometimes?), but because we understand the inherent value in engaging others and listening to/leaning from their story. Because we desire a deeper connection, we have trouble expressing ourselves when the conversation is mundane. We become awkward in an attempt to fill the weird word void. PS: Cleo is so cute! Makes up for her judgements. 😉

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