Across the table from me sat five other females, all young and equally glamorous, drinking the supplied bottled water repeatedly to avoid making any conversation. Looking at their fresh faces and bonny cheeks, I could tell that I was officially the oldest. With such age-related privilege, I decided that it was up to me to begin any chatter. It’s usually up to us ‘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 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.
Okay, this isn’t generalised to all young people, so don’t misquote me on that. I remember as a child 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. Notably, other children do this too. They imagine, create and ask questions to better their experiences, from alphabet games on long car journeys, making forts out of chairs and sheets in the lounge, to even making up 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, for anyone talking a made-up language with their friends in their late teens would be a little weird, right?
So, what happens in that gap of 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? This brings me back to the table of silent females.
Feeling bored from the weighted silence swelling the air, I piped up some observational facts about the items on the table in front of us. 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 teen code I was no longer aware of. But I continued to gabble away, living in hope that someone would interject with something instead of letting me sit there talking to myself like a mad person, and eventually, they did. Just hearing their voices pipe up nearly sent a jolt of shock through my body – it was rather unexpected!
Don’t get me wrong though, as much as things improved on the chatter front, there was still a proverbial anxiety that hovered about them and I couldn’t help but wonder, “What are you so afraid of?”
Later during that meeting, our ice-breaker intros finally answered that question. Do you know what their introductions involved? Well, it was a countless theme of telling everyone how they were boring, had no hobbies and did nothing in their spare time. As you can imagine, opinionated little me sat there silently 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?
Think about it. Do you remember what you used to like as a child? Why? And, 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 really happy? Because, 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 chucking out the times table, but actually getting that youthful 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, it delivers something special to you and everyone 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 to release this side of you, you must free your inner explorer and love the creative individual you hold inside. Without question, that person is in all of us.
So next time you’re at a table with a group of strangers, don’t glance at them for approval, just say something. You might surprise yourself at how life can change.