I am not good at small talk! Things need to be important, inspiring and/or life-affecting, if not life-affirming or life-changing, for me to vocalise them. Simple words don’t do it for me and I would much rather engage in a complicated sentence with thought-out clauses, than chatter away just for the dubious pleasure of saying something.
So I prefer to remain quiet, which is often interpreted as not having much to say or being plain stupid (especially as English is not my mother-tongue, so there must be something wrong with me, right?!).
Silence and reticence often confuse people. In a world where we are taught to make our voice heard no matter who or what, being quiet instead of nattering your life away, is frequently taken as a licence to ignore you.
It could be because you are shy or you find it difficult to immediately establish common ground with people you don’t know very well. It could be anything, really. It seems like if you don’t lip 200 words per minute fast, you don’t count.
It’s like you are a house with your window shutters closed or left only ever so slightly ajar. No-one is interested in giving you the time that takes to throw them open and let the sun illuminate the hidden gems inside.
People used to judge you at face value. Nowadays though it is politically incorrect to dismiss you based on your looks. So now you get dismissed at ‘chat value’. Or in other words how quickly you can talk about anything in general and nothing in particular.
So, I get dismissed a lot. Usually by people who like to connect and are skilful at making acquaintances fast. They open their mouths and off they go telling you all about themselves. If you don’t reciprocate on the second with an equally inane stream of lack of thought, if you dare to make a pause to form a sentence, that’s it. You get dismissed and they have moved on.
I will honestly say that there have been days when I have wished, really wished to be just like them. To be able to enunciate words so fast that my lips appear blurred. To have attended the same attitude school where everyone gets taught the 101 ways to social chat.
Then, and sometimes only after some or, respectively, many tears, I realise that I am fine just the way I am and there is no need to pretend I am something else instead. It sounds a bit defensive, but my truth is that if you don’t take the time to explore the inner worlds of people, if you don’t follow the arduous journey up to the abode of their trust, then you will continue to glide on the shiny surface of life and simply chat away instead of engaging with and understanding another human being and learning something about yourself along the way.
Fortunately for me, I live in a country where every day I am reminded of the importance of one’s inner world.
From the smallest to the largest village in Italy you will find prime examples of art and architecture expressing in the most open, visual and yet intimate way how the artist felt and how he shaped reality according to his own dreamworld.
Visiting such places to discover works of creative thought often feels like a pilgrimage, as you may need to deal with several obstacles – from steep cobbled roads to endless steps.
You need a bit of resolve to overcome them. You need to invest some physical and emotional strength to walk up all the way to the top. Of course, you can decide not to attempt them at all, sit in a cafe at the bottom, chat away the afternoon and then move onto the next destination in your extensive travel list.
What you would have lost though are the views which would surprise you and delight you as you scale the road up.
The views that open new horizons ahead of you, expand your understanding of things, lift the haze and make what felt so far appear closer than before.
Along the way you may face a wall guarded by your own fears. Attempt to overcome them and you may find what exactly is in your heart.
Or you may come across a benevolent guide who looks after you and reminds you that the road ahead is worth it and, anyway, there is only a little bit left.
The most amazing thing starts to happen when, after the arduous first stage of the journey, you reach the gate to another human’s inner world.
One by one you start discovering this person’s virtues, what makes him or her unique and understanding that he or she is after all a great person to get to know and have in your life.
The best bit though is that, once you have reached the summit, you realise that you have not only won somebody’s friendship and trust, but there is a whole new journey ahead of you two to make together and to experience the world in a deep and meaningful way.
Now this is something that simply chattering away won’t help you achieve.
I am writing this with much love for my husband and the people who have made this arduous journey of discovery of my inner world and who are there for me.
If you are in a position where you are tired of people who simply chatter, natter and then chatter again and move too quickly to the next one, hold on for a little bit longer as there is always that special person who makes all the effort and makes it feel like fun.