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They Don't Have to Know

I love the thrill of a good conversation. I want to know what you’re excited about, what’s bothering you and how you’ll overcome it. I want to know about the last book you read - what you think it all means and why the protagonist was relevant. I want you to tell me about new music you’ve found and what it reminds you of. I want you to send me the last podcast you heard and the last quote that moved you.

With a good conversation I’ve never felt the need to hold back. I’ve opened up till I’ve been given a reason not to. For better or for worse I have both shared and been given a multitude of information. Yet what has left me feeling unsettled is my growing exposure to those who prefer to keep themselves guarded. Did emotional maturity now only look like closing yourself off and going through the motions by oneself? In that case, I felt like I definitely hadn't been given the memo. Preferring not to delve too deeply into this I initially chose to believe that my actions were nothing out of the ordinary. Yet for the first time this year my conviction faltered – was I doing something wrong?

I always seemed too quick to announce my next move - too eager to let everyone I care about know exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. I was excited. I wanted them to know. Although there was nothing glaringly wrong about this, a recent post by Vex King offered another perspective.

“Make your next move without announcing it. Your intention doesn’t always require attention. Start low-key and watch your life progress much quicker.” – Vex King, Mind Coach

Being low-key has never been my forte but I’ve come to realise that in this context that’s the move. Talking about what I intended to do left projects in the works. Talking about the project gave me the false sense of working on the project. Whether it be intending to join a new spin class or pondering over the advantages of yoga over barre - I ultimately thought and spoke about it in more abundance than physically doing it. Nevertheless, guarding myself off felt unauthentic. Was I not supposed to be myself? Is that not what all self-help books, teen pop culture songs and TV shows encourage you to do?

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Yes and no.

I love that I can be open about my thoughts, feelings and aspirations. It has given me the most meaningful conversations and the most valuable friendships. Hence I know that my willingness to be open does not set me up for failure. Instead it is a personality trait that I’ve learnt needs to be redirected over time so I can align the right conversations with the right people.

Conversations with wonderful people who didn't quite return the same energy had left me feeling exhausted. I was convinced that I needed to abide by the typical approach of seeming mature - the mentality that I was not supposed to share my feelings because that would make me look like I did not have control over them. While most people allowed others to share information about themselves before forming an opinion, I shared things about myself and then allowed the other person’s response to guide my judgement. While I have come to appreciate, learn and grow from their approach I am not yet ready to dismiss my own. Slowly but surely I have realised that I don't need to - especially if the purpose remains the same - to make interactions more involved and to refuse to settle for mediocre days or average experiences.

In fact nothing makes me happier than having someone share a little personal titbit and I still thrive on the conversations that come from a place of passion or nostalgia.

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