What do you do when you accidentally bump into someone you haven’t seen in years? You’ve spotted them from a distance and done your best to evade them, you’ve fiercely avoided eye contact, you’ve quickened your pace, hell, you’ve even attempted telepathy by internally shrieking “DON’T LOOK AT ME!” until your brain rattles inside your skull and your ears ring. But, because diving headfirst into a rosebush isn’t exactly socially acceptable practice, your valiant attempts at evasion fail and you’re forced to stop. Even worse: you’re forced to interact.
“What have you been up to?” They ask.
After mentally kicking yourself for not being the first to draw blood, you gulp back the overwhelming urge to scream “NOTHING. NOTHING! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” And you stare into the black abyss that is Small Talk. How do you handle this? What do you do?
WHAT. DO. YOU. DO???
It’s bad enough knowing you have to endure the longest, most agonizingly painful three minute conversation of your life. Worse still, is when someone upstairs is feeling particularly vengeful, and the conversation goes on and on and suddenly you realise there’s no eject button and your engines have died and plane is on fire and you’re HURTLING TOWARD THE CLIFF FACE WITH NOTHING TO SAY AND OH GOD WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL YOUR MOTHER MORE OFTEN?!!!
Here’s the thing though: you do have something to say. Everyone has something to say. Unless you’ve legitimately been living in a box for an extended period of time (in which case, even then, I’m willing to bet money on the fact that you can still find things to complain about), there’s stuff you can pull out that won’t make the catch-up chat you’re having feel like you’re gargling bleach. You don’t have to be Ghandi to keep a conversation rolling, kids.
“But Nikki,” you protest “some people suffer from social anxiety, you know.” I do know! I’ve suffered from it most of my adult life, which many of my friends might find completely surprising given I am, in fact, a human foghorn. So I get it! I acknowledge that sometimes it’s way easier to stay at home in your flannels watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and demolishing the entire contents of your fridge and cupboard. Dry pasta over social interaction? Yes please!
But the fact is that we’re all social morons at least 40% of the time. (I made that statistic up. See?!) We’ve all got weird hang ups, and we all get nervous or use the wrong word at the wrong time every once in a while. We’ve all said “suppository” when we meant “depository”, right?
And when we run into that person we haven’t seen since high school, we all flounder at that dreaded question: “So what have you been up to?”
So how do you deal with it?
I’ve been up to a lot, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed in the details of the last, say, seven years of my life that I end up shrugging comically and responding with a self-deprecating “Oh, not much. Ha. Ha. Ha. I like television.”
Aaaand that’s how things get awkward.
I figured I’d start up this blog to document what it is exactly that I’m “up to” these days. There’s some massive changes coming my way in the next few months, so I thought it might be a nice idea to put it all down somewhere easily accessible, and invite you all to find out what’s going on in my life. Maybe even share what you’re doing in your own!
That way, if you see me on the street, you won’t have to stop and force me to endure your small talk. And that’s perhaps the best reward of all.