Across the table from me sat five other females, all young and equally glamorous, drinking the supplied bottled water repeatedly to avoid making any kind of conversation. Looking at their fresh faces and bonny cheeks, I could tell that I was officially the oldest. And with such an age-related privilege, I decided that it was up to me to begin any chatter. It’s usually up to ‘older’ adults to ask questions these days because we don’t mind putting ourselves out so much. After all, we’ve realised that time goes by far more pleasantly when you learn something about your surroundings, rather than just waiting until something more interesting floats by. That’s a younger person thing – knowing that this is boring, not knowing how to make it less boring, but definitely knowing that someone or something else will come along to improve things without any effort from oneself.
However, that notion isn’t generalised to all young people, so don’t misquote me on that. For instance, as a child, I remember being quite happy to entertain myself when situations became perceptibly ‘dull’. I would go and read, or draw, or play marbles etc. In fact, entertaining myself was pretty easy. Many other children do this same sort of thing, too. They imagine, create and ask questions to better their experiences, such as by playing alphabet games on long car journeys, making forts out of chairs and sheets in the lounge, to even creating a silly language with their friends. But, I suppose with social norms taking a swift u-turn during your teens, our natural neophilia is swept under the rug. Because any teenager seen talking a made-up language with their friends would be considered a little weird, right?
So, what happens during that gap in life – the part where some of us are no longer learning, or have started a new job and maybe even considering a future family – what do you do? What do you talk about? Is it still okay to dream or to debate about the unknown? This brings me back to the table of silent females.
Feeling bored from the weighted silence swelling the air, I pipe up some observational facts about the items on the table in front of us. The first attempt of conversation only served to release a few surprised stares and then some awkward exchange of glances, as if being the first to reply in a situation like this would somehow be against some kind of teen code. But, I continued to gabble away anyway, living in the hope that someone would soon interject with something, instead of just letting me sit there talking to myself like a mad person. And eventually, they did. Just hearing their voices nearly sent a jolt of shock through my body – it was so unexpected!
However, don’t get me wrong, as much as things improved on the chatter front, there was still proverbial anxiety that hovered about them and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What are you so afraid of?” And when the ice-breaker intros later made their way into the meeting, my burning question was finally answered.
I shook my head in dismay. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing. These young girls with their colourful hair and pretty clothes looked like they must have something they wanted to share, something that made them happy outside of having a boyfriend and a pet pug. But they didn’t. Instead, all they expressed was how they were a bit “boring”, had no hobbies and did nothing in their spare time. I was flabbergasted.
“What do you mean you don’t like anything? Or do anything? Everyone likes something!”
Maybe this is why we’re the generation of the selfie? Constantly exploring the lost elements of our personality through instantly gratifying images where our eyes are enlarged and our face shapes altered to almond-shaped perfection. We are the era of the ego. Why? Because we’ve forgotten to be confident in what makes us unique! Again, this does not apply to everyone who does this (who doesn’t like a good selfie sometimes?) But to those who have forgotten that bridge of happiness, is this you? Are you a person who talks about the superficial, rather than the supernatural? The one who would watch a film just because it’s something to do on a Saturday afternoon, rather than having a specific pull towards the story or genre? You may not quite know why this is yet, but perhaps the answer lies in the fact that you’ve lost touch with someone very important…
Think about it. Do you remember what you used to do for fun as a child? Do you still do it now? If the answer is no, then now tell me if you are happy? Whether that be with your life, your friends or who you are, are you actually truly happy? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t ever feel happy unless I’m learning, teaching or sharing. By that, I don’t mean giving someone a pen and pad and asking them to write out the times table. But instead, by really getting that youthful and curious nature out and exploring the dimensions of a person or situation for more than just what’s on the surface.
Thinking about the world on a different level – whether that be realistic or surrealistic – delivers something special to you and everyone else around you. These things get you talking, get you thinking, and it sparks you to make little changes which can kick-start something really cool. But in order for this potential to be released, you must first free the inner-explorer you hold inside and love the creative individual you still are. Discovering that side of you is a real game-changer.
So, next time you’re at a table with a group of strangers, don’t glance at them for approval. Just say something. The unexpected places it can lead to may surprise you.