Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tongue-Tied With Trivialities

After watching the morning news today, Live! with Regis and Kelly followed and for the first time, I actually sat down and listened to them.  (Oprah used to be in the same time slot which explains why I’m a Regis and Kelly virgin, up until this morning).  Other than their sense of humor and chemistry, what fascinated me most was how smoothly they segued from one topic to another.  First it was sports…then flowers…then bullying….then bread rolls and how Regis loves them…which led to gluten and celiac disease….then tuxedos making a comeback…then off to giant snails in Florida.  I was so taken by their skill at making conversation and making it seem so effortless (granted it helps they’re getting paid A LOT and have done this for years for a living) that I couldn’t help but wish I had even just a fraction of their talent.
I've admitted countless times before that I suck at small talk and making conversation. Normally after three minutes, I'm out...speechless...scrambling inside my head for something interesting to say or just anything that would make sense. Then I get nervous which all the more makes me look and sound like an idiot because at this point, my pronouns and prepositions get all messed up (note: non-US-raised Filipinos are known to be preposition-challenged) which makes me even more self-conscious about looking like a total loser.  I would much prefer doing away with all the small talk and jump into deeper, more meaningful conversations. However, life doesn't work out this way does it?

I remember an observation my ex-therapist made.  (And yes, I saw a therapist for 6months two years ago, so get over it!).  Of course we talked about relationships and she knew how my ex-boyfriend proposed to me after a month of speaking with me online; and then how my then-boyfriend-now-husband also proposed marriage after less than a month of my arrival here in the U.S.  I also kept mentioning to her how I would much rather talk about the deeper, more intense things, than do the casual 'small talk'.  She said, " have a pattern of wanting to skip the process and just jump right in."

As soon as she said that, I knew she made an important point.  Though some relationships can skip the trivial things, the more normal process is really to go from shallow to deep.  Really, what would make sense is to dip your toes a little bit to test the waters, walk slowly as you gradually get totally immersed.  The problem is, perhaps I am impatient and just want to know immediately if I'm compatible with someone, rather than go through the process and 'waste time'. But relationships don't work out this way and there is no instant litmus test that one can use to know if one is worth knowing and pursuing.  You really just have to do the work.  

And it's also not as simple as being impatient.  The problem with my sense of inability ALSO seems to stem from (again) my lack of confidence.  My best friend and I are the same and we agreed that, unlike our spouses who can seem to talk with anyone about anything, we never feel comfortable enough to ask questions.  And conversations between strangers really do start from questions don't they?  How will you know what common things you have if you don't ask? How will the other person know if you're even interested in getting to know him/her if you don't ask questions about them?  The trouble is, I always feel like it's prying, or I'm scared to overstep boundaries.  I tend to overthink and get overly careful not to offend anyone with my questions or not to seem too curious, or too ignorant or too whatever. 

Ultimately, I think I'm overly concerned with the other person's judgement or perceptions of me, rather than just be genuinely concerned with what the other person has to say and what possible relationship could develop.  I'm too concerned with putting my best foot forward all the time which is insane, not to mention, too self-absorbed.  

I need to get over least a a time.  If indeed I am interested in establishing connections, then it should really be about the 'other' and not myself; to get to know the other person more, hear their voice, their stories, instead of being deafened with my imagined negative judgement of me.  And like I said, self-confidence has an important role here.  I need to also remind myself that as I talk with others, it's not just me being assessed, as if I'm out there to pass others' tests.  I'm also an active participant, assessing them, their character and if indeed, we gel enough to walk together towards the deeper end.


  1. This lonely post is in need of a comment, so here goes. SA.
    Si Vivencio sa bahay? Preposition-challenged. Messed up pronouns. I like it. As in:

    "Are you going at my sister's house."

    "Don't forget to bring your luggages."

    "I am sure my sister will like having you there. He is very hospitable."

    It is all very charming, and it teaches a native English speaker who is paying attention something about the Tagalog language.

    On a more serious note, you must be a very interesting person. Share it with others with the correct timing, and you will make friends. Some of my best friends are way smarter than I am, and I really like that about them.

  2. Oh thanks for commenting Mike B.! If you hadn't, I wouldn't have revisited this and discover that the previous comments had all been deleted!! Yikes!! I used to have Disqus but now changed it and apparently, the comments did not transfer. *Sigh* I'm gonna have to manually transfer them.

    As for me being interesting...well, it depends. I tend to be on the serious side, sometimes I think I'm older than my age so that doesn't appeal to everyone so it's a bit tough. But reminding myself to ask questions now when I'm conversing has REALLY helped! :-)

  3. Sophia Chang wrote:

    First of all, is your therapist white? I went to grad school for therapy and I've had 3 myself - the race and culture make a HUGE difference.

    With the whole "moving fast in relationships" thing - that's very Asian. There's nothing "wrong" with it; it's just not recommended in white/western culture, but that's because our cultures are different. My current and last two boyfriends (all various kinds of southern Chinese) talked about marriage from day one. There's no point in dating for us if we're not hoping to get married. My cousins who are FOBs are the same, and my dad and stepmom moved in together immediately. It's really not that weird. Our culture emphasizes commitment no matter what - I don't know about Filipinos, but the Chinese still frown on divorce and still stick it out NO MATTER WHAT. I'm all for embracing our culture and I take pride in how we stick through our obligations, our family commitments, and we DON'T GIVE UP. As a minority it's even more important that we stick together and emphasize the importance of family connections. Go Asians!

  4. Kathyradigan wrote:

    Joy it took me years to start to get more confident and better at asking questions and connecting. I also felt a need for instant connection and I have learned to let some things take time. I don't share everything all at once anymore and I wait till I feel safer before I tell more intimate things about myself. I have found for myself that reltionships that start very quickly and the connection is there from the start don't always last as long as the ones that have taken a longer time. For myself I think it is all a matter of baby steps and making mistakes, kind of like you have to be in it to win it. I make mistakes all the time, but I feel much less self concious than I once did. But that is only my path, I think the trick is learning to like who we are and accepting that. I always love to read your posts!!

  5. Thank you for your words and thoughts Kathy! It's nice to know I'm not the only one having a hard time with this, and you're American, hehehe...You're steps and trial and error. We'll get there :-))

  6. Sophia:

    Go Asians, yey! Yeah, same with Filipinos...commitment is VERY important and divorce is not really at least for traditional ones, though there are some that don't think this way anymore. You won't believe this though, but my ex-bf is actually British and he was fast! LOL! Maybe it's cos he's older and didn't see the point in waiting too long? I guess I'm drawn to such guys, haha! Thanks for your input and thoughtful comments as always, Sophia! I hope all's well with you :-)

  7. Muriel wrote:

    Hello Joy! I am also someone who doesn't like waiting and would prefer to go straight to the point (and cut the crap, as they say over here). I suppose that I had to learn that some things do take time. I also had to learn to trust my instincts. That being said, I am still learning and I have yet to find the right balance...

  8. suzanne77 wrote:

    I think they all proposed so quickly because, um, hello, beautiful, smart thoughtful woman? They were all madly in love with you. FWIW sometimes when you know, you know. My hubby bought the ring after we'd been dating for only 3 months, tho he didn't propose until 3 months after that.

    But I digress! My husband is also a bit shy and reticent with people and I suspect would rather just know right away whether it will workout with them, but I was outgoing enough for the both of us. :)

  9. Lalia wrote:

    Interesting post Joy. I am one of those people who can talk to anyone. I strike up conversations anywhere about anything. My husband however is exactly the opposite. But there is definitely something very appealing about getting to the point!

  10. Joy,

    I used to be VERY serious, and VERY shy and private.

    For example, I used to hate when people touched me innocently, like putting their hand on my shoulder for just a moment when we were talking. Now I love that kind of sweet and human connection.

    I used to try to change things in others and get things workng more smoothly in companies and other organizations I had dealings with (if their lousy procedures affected me negatively). It was generally a complete waste of my time and emotions. Now, I rarely let my annoyance get the better of me, so I do not spend time trying to fix things.

    I am more open and outgoing than I was years earlier, and that has made my life more interesting. I strike up conversations with strangers quite easily. But one of my big drawbacks is I do not ask enough questions of them (sometimes I talk too much about me) -- not deeply intimate questions, but questions on more mundane and less revealing topics that can still let me learn a little bit about the person and show that person that I am interested.


Let me know your thoughts!