Today at lunch a waitress sat down with my friend and I. We go to this particular restaurant often and are chatty, so we're friends enough to sit together during her break, but not enough to make plans outside of the restaurant.
She told us that she was raped in the past.
Now, this wasn't borne from the victim mentality where people have a tragedy in their past that dominates their identity, and thus must be brought to the surface early in every relationship. We were talking about recovering from events like that, and she matter-of-factly brought it up and talked about how she recovered, without once fishing for pity.
It was pretty amazing. Not because I like talking about rape, but because she was willing to pierce the invisible barrier between people that prevents that sort of social intimacy. I don't have any similarly horrifying experiences in my past, but if I did I would have felt comfortable talking about them with her.
That sort of conversation always inspires me. If you ever want to become better friends, you have to break that barrier at some point. When people beat me to it, I admire them. We think of courage as something like going off into the woods with a sword to fight a baby-eating bear, but in real life, it most often manifests itself as making yourself socially vulnerable. The waitress could have kept quiet, worried that we might thing of her differently.
The breach of over-civility doesn't have to be quite so drastic, either. Last night I was sitting in an otherwise empty Samovar Tea Lounge when a couple sat down at the table across from me. Very quickly it became obvious that it was a first date, probably from online dating. How was it so obvious? Well, for one, their conversation was painfully limited to only the most polite conversations. What do you do? Oh, that's great. Where were you raised? Las Vegas? Wow. Three brothers? Yes, I like tea, too.
Here were two people who were obviously eager enough to connect that they got dressed up a bit, traveled to a tea house, and yet they weren't actually connecting. I had the urge to swoop in, not to try to steal the girl or anything dramatic, but just to talk about real things for a minute or two to try to change the tone of the conversation.
I left before the date was over, but my guess is that they won't see each other again. After all, what did either of them say that might have hooked the other? "Ooh, he grew up in Las Vegas. I HAVE to see him again!" All it would have taken was for one of them to take a small risk and reveal something rather than just saying something. That's not a guarantee of future dates, but it may have improved the chances.
SUPER EXCITING NEWS COMING SOON! Hopefully by Thursday... I already have the post written, just have to wait for it to happen.
Thinking about redesigning the site... any suggestsions other than widening this column (which I will do)?
Hmm, so that second gripe should read "RELEVANT related post links". Like if I'm reading "Living in a Small RV: Introduction", I'd love links at the bottom to the next articles in the series.
Tynan, I've been reading your site on and off for what must be a couple years now. There's two things about the design that have ALWAYS bothered / frustrated me.
First is the lack of datestamp on any post. Second is the general lack of "related post" links.
I did, however, just discover the post archive, which sort of solves both those problems. Still...datestamps, man!
@Jay I agree that I can be arrogant sometimes, and I actually do try to keep it in check. I appreciate your critical feedback, too. But in this particular case, I think my error was lack of clarity. What I meant was not "I'm so great so I'll talk about terrible stuff that's happened to me" but "The fact that SHE made the brave move to talk about something serious in a comfortable way would have made me feel comfortable to reciprocate".
Tynan, I enjoy your page, but this is the kind of arrogance that rubs me the wrong way sometimes: "I don't have any similarly horrifying experiences in my past, but if I did I would have felt comfortable talking about them with her."
You really don't know if you'd be comfortable or not. To speak matter of factly about how you'd act if you were the victim of some kind of terrible trauma is kind of insulting to people who have you know - actually had stuff happen to them.
Adding a simple "I hope" [I would have felt comfortable...] would really mitigate this arrogance.
Agree with Graham. Every few minutes of small talk kills me a little inside. Could you make a post on that too? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This is the same strategy that is outlined in Keith Ferrazzi's book "Never Eat Alone". I use it all the time and it always works.
I like this post. Something to keep in mind for someone who is not very adept at making friends quickly.
Site tip: Whatever changes you make try to keep the design as similar as possible to what people are already used to. People generally shy away from radical change and that can be bad for business. And yes move the search bar up near the top.
Great post, I love the insight as to why/how people connect. One thing that I would really enjoy hearing (reading?) you write about is how to have better/deeper conversations with people. One thing that I personally struggle with is that when I meet new people (or even have known them for a while) I have a hard time making a conversation go further than just "I love tea too!" and similar small-talk. While it sounds so simple, it is one of the biggest things I struggle with.
Oh btw, the banner up at the top wont stay gone when I press hide/never show again. I keep pressing it but it keeps popping back up.
wow, never even thought of it this way. but it so makes sense. I think this is something I struggle with a little. Thanks for bringing to my attention. Something I need to work on
I finally arrived at the Manchester, New Hampshire airport around nine at night. We fly in there because it takes less time to get to my grandparents house in a Boston suburb from Manchester than it does from the Boston airport. Traffic and all that.
We were supposed to get there at five, but there was so much snow in Manchester that we had to divert to Boston, wait for the snow to pass, and then return to Manchester.
I actually like the delay, though. I love everything about traveling, including being stuck on a plane doing nothing. There's something very pleasant about being totally isolated from the rest of the world.
One of the reasons that I stopped blogging was because I thought my blog posts were essentially garbage. (This thought makes me laugh now) But, I didn't think I was writing anything profound or insightful. I was offering details of my boring life, and I thought that I was merely complaining about my life. If you know me at all, it takes me about a year and a half to start an essay and about a decade to finish one because I want every word I write to be perfect the first time (even though I know it won't be).
Yet, one of the reasons that I started blogging again is because one of my former teachers from high school asked me to. It is a place of reflection. As written in her blog, a blog is "more of a space for brainstorming, rather than perfection." So, as I have looked back at my old posts from my old blog, I feel that I had really learned things about myself as I wrote them.
For this blog, I hope to let go of my need to be profound and brilliant in every single post and use it to share the thoughts that I have, even if they're just random or ordinary.
Now, let's get into what this post is really about.
I am the type of person that thinks too much about something. I tend to do this with my relationships. I will overanalyze a situation and come up with a conclusion that may be wrong. I briefly mentioned this before in a previous post, but I'm going to elaborate.