Small Talk

Something that I’m definitely not good at is small talk. It makes me uncomfortable, feel stupid, and offers a hollow feeling in pretending to connect with someone. It’s safe to say, I do not like small talk.

There is, however, a form of conversation that I enjoy even less than that, and that is gossip. As soon as my brain registers that we the conversation has transitioned to gossip, I’m checked out. My consciousness goes to a subconscious place, hiding itself from the incoming discord of rumour, innuendo, unsubstantiated assumptions, and biased conceptions of past experiences.

Quite simply, I’m aware of the benefits of this primal form of human collaboration. A primordial connection to others through the discussion of a third party and their habits and idiosyncrasies. I understand that everyone of us use it to build relationships, and that it is a safe ground away from the taboo topics of small talk, but I am curious where my instinctual aversion of the topic has developed.

And I wonder, knowing that this form of communication and social bonding is important to us, why do we spend so much more time on this, than we do on the discussion of ideas, thoughts, opinions and innovations. Why are we happy to accept that the dealings of the Kardashians can make the nightly news, reaching a mass audience in an instant, but in order to hear the discussion of real world people’s ideologies and challenges, we have to resort to the niche corners of Reddit and the rest of the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we have this ability to connect and share with other individuals in the same mindset as myself, but for how long. With the looming threat towards net neutrality in the United States, do not be fooled to think that won’t affect the rest of the globe.

So the question I leave you with today is, what have you done this week to discuss something bigger? What information have you absorbed from sources other than your mainstream news organisations, Facebook feeds, and radio advertisements.

If we hope for a population of individuals, thinking for themselves, challenging the decisions of our leaders constructively, and pressuring the major news articles to raise the quality of reporting and removal of bias, then that starts with each of us.

Guise.

Rhythm and Blues

Wake Up. Don’t hit that snooze button again. You have a train to catch, or traffic to beat, or ferry to ride. It’s time for work.

Nobody ever told me just quite how it would change. Growing up, you are warned and whinged to about the hassles and stresses of working life. “Enjoy your school days”, or “make the most of uni, they were the best times”, that’s all we were ever told. The details were omitted of the difficulties of adulthood. We assume the details and believe that it all comes down to the stresses of paying bills, and raising a family. I don’t know about you, but I was never warned about the expectations, and THAT is what has been the biggest adjustment to adulthood.

I’m no stranger to responsibility, rather than shirk it off, my personality drives me at it and I thrive on it. Expectations are different however. Expectations from your manager which far exceed either your skill set, formal training, or time capacity. Expectations from your family to be there for them, to not snap at them, keep your patience, and to be the person that they have loved as you grow up. Expectations from your friends to always be the same, smiling, and ever-happy guy they have grown up alongside. Expectations from your partner to be a caring, nurturing lover, a keen listener, and a rock firm support during their tough times. Expectations from society that we will uphold the morale good, not drink to excess, work hard in our career, turn away from drugs, avoid violence, and so on. These expectations are all valid, and it fills us with a great satisfaction when we meet those expectations, but it leaves very little for one to focus on, develop, and grow one’s self, without some of those expectations falling away to way side, leaving us with broken or strained friendships, unfulfilled career potential, a rocky relationship, or a reputation as that family member that nobody can stand to be around.

Nobody warned us of the pressure; nobody warned us of the monotony of working life, and the anxiety that comes with it. Considering the improvement for worker’s rights that we have seen in the last twenty years, it’s fair to assume that this is the best it has ever been. I don’t want to know what it was like for our parents, grandparents, and so on. Ignorance helps me sleep.

So what’s this all about, exactly? Why scrap together 650 words of whingeing about life? Is it about the pressure of a career, the monotony that working life brings, the conflicting expectations drawing and pulling us in multiple directions, or a personal vent at the state of NSW infrastructure? I suppose it’s all of the above. It’s not to say that you or I can’t handle it all, or that we are destined to failure or an asylum. It’s simply that it sneaks up on us. When our career, family, relationship, friendship, health and hobbies come at us demanding the same scarce time that we have to spare, we cannot prepare for this moment. No matter how many warnings our relatives, mentors, and acquaintances offer to us, nobody is ready at that point. We are still young, possibly immature, but ultimately overwhelmed by the spike, in expectations.

Happiness is the key. Either find something you love to do, work for someone amazing or an employer who openly shows how much they care about you, just find something, because I’ve found in recent months, is that happiness makes the darkest days feel bright (don’t you dare say a word about that cliché).

When you find that happiness, make sure you show your appreciation to the person or people who supported you when you found it tough to wake up. When you were pressing that snooze button three too many times a morning, they were your happiness when you needed it most. She is my happiness, and the reason I fought through some of my toughest times. Thank you.

 

Guise