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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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Of Talking to People
Bartholomew
na_lon
A friend posted something on her lj that made me think.

I think most people that know me in real life would consider me to be fairly sociable and good at talking to people. I suppose I am - I can talk to pretty much anyone (as long as we speak roughly the same language) - but, like most of the people I know - I do not find it easy to talk to people. It costs me a lot of effort and I do get peopled out. Even if the people are friends.

Over the years I have learnt a few things about talking to people. There are ways of cutting a conversation short (politely) if it's not going to go anywhere or indeed of making it worthwhile. So my remedy against having to make smalltalk is two-fold: I bore people rigid by talking about my research or history, or I admit to being a role-player, costumer, Tolkien fan and scare them off. As a result I have had some interesting conversations.

But there are times when there is a good reason to make smalltalk, and I do so on those occasions. Or I find ways of telling people I am a geek in muggle terms. E.g. I am involved with an improvisation drama group and I am a member of an educational charity. ;-)

The most interesting outcome of this strategy is, however, that I now actually have a couple of muggle friends who do know about my geekdom and don't sneer, but meet me on a Monday with greetings such as: "How was the role-playing?" or "How is your writing going?" Nix is one of these. She may never want to join an RPG or want to read what I write, but she respects that this stuff is real and important to me.

As for those people that give me funny looks in response to my topics of conversation... do I really want to prolong my encounters with them?

Exactly!

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Hm. I hadn't thought of the rare occasions when there are people you do want to spend time with that are mundanes when I wrote this.

It is very difficult, I think, with people like relatives. My mother, for example, is tolerant of my strange doings and will listen to me talk if I want to, but I think a lot of it just leaves her wondering. What she does see is that through my fandom I have friends, and she is happy for me about that.

But with others - like the relative you describe - I guess I would adopt a slightly different policy than total honesty. Or rather, I'd try to find ways of 'selling' what I do - and to talk about other things I like that are more neutral. For example, I'd push the 'charity' angle or talk about gardening. I agree with your comment about not wishing to censor them - but I think that sometimes you have to ask people to be diplomatic about how they express their opinions. If I went about espousing that I find something important to them dull or stupid and was very dismissive, they would probably not be impressed either, so asking people not to call my interests silly seems fair enough to me. And maybe being open about acknowledging that it's okay to have different interests could help strengthen such a friendship?

All that said - it's not easy. Never easy. What I neglected to put in my entry is that there is still a lot of disappointment and pain along the road. But overall I think I am happier for being myself much more around people adn expecting of them to accept me, just as I expect of me to accept them.

Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the question. It had really made me think.

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