A World in Which I am An Extrovert who is Extraordinarily Good at Small Talk

“I am watching you watch me finish my last sentence just so you can keep talking.”

A world in which I am an extrovert
00:05
who is extraordinarily good at small talk.
00:09
(laughter)
00:12
In this world, I am at a birthday party or a wedding
00:15
and rolling off hilarious anecdotes because I am witty and quick
00:19
and such a stimulating conversationalist, and it’s easy for me to remember
00:23
every interesting experience I’ve ever had in my entire life
00:25
that might make the other person laugh
00:27
because I am not wondering how on earth I didn’t see the stain on my pants
00:31
when I got dressed this morning,
00:32
or why my voice is suddenly several octaves higher than usual
00:35
if they can notice that I really don’t want to be here
00:37
and that I would much rather be in my bed
00:38
listening to soundtracks from 1940s musicals–
00:40
No! I am in the moment.
00:43
Because being around people doesn’t make me feel like I’m a juice box
00:46
that someone is drinking way too fast.
00:48
No, it makes me feel like I’m a water balloon
00:51
that has swelled just enough.
00:54
So I am spitting out small talk,
00:57
and I definitely do not just say, “Yeah” and then sit in screeching silence,
01:02
mushing peas with the prongs of my fork.
01:05
No, in this world you comment on the flavor of the pasta
01:09
and I comment on the flavor of the chicken
01:11
because I am extraordinarily good at small talk
01:14
and I am extraordinarily good at
01:16
not talking about anything worth talking about.
01:19
And we are extraordinarily good at not actually hearing each other
01:22
and so we may as well be under water puckering fish
01:25
with mouths opening and closing,
01:27
and I am watching you watch me finish my sentence
01:30
just so you can keep talking which is to say maybe the real reason
01:34
I don’t talk more is because you don’t listen enough.
01:38
And I may not be extraordinarily good at small talk,
01:41
but at least I can listen.
01:43
I learned that from my mother, also an introvert.
01:46
My mom knows how to listen because she, like me,
01:49
has used her butter knife to carve space in the lunch table for the extroverts
01:54
and folded her lips with her napkin.
01:56
I don’t always speak up because I’m worried that I’m not interesting enough
02:00
so I stay quiet for people who are in love with the sound of their own voice
02:04
so much that they don’t mind if it bores us.
02:08
And I collect jars full of the unsaid, every joke I worried wasn’t funny enough,
02:13
every observation I thought was stupid and empty them for my mother
02:18
because she always makes me feel interesting.
02:21
She wraps her green eyes around me like I’m in color
02:24
but the rest is black and white
02:27
and she tells me my voice is bigger than most people give it room for.
02:31
And I happen to think I’m pretty interesting
02:34
and if you stop chattering long enough for the air to settle,
02:37
you’ll discover that I’ve had the words all along,
02:40
and they’re just as rich and rounded as yours.
02:44
And even if I’m not the most interesting part of your day,
02:47
I think I deserve to feel like I am.
02:50
(applause and cheers)

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