Story by Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor
Do you ever walk away from a conversation that was so awkward, so uncomfortable, that it feels like the only way to escape the embarrassment is to leave the country or join the Witness Protection Program?
Once, I was driving away after having one of those conversations and I caught myself thinking: That person must hate me. They probably didn’t want to talk to me at all, and that’s why our conversation was such a train wreck. The assumption stuck and I spent the next two years believing that it was true. I avoided connecting with that person because I was certain they didn’t like me.
Recently, I found myself in conversation with this person once again. I noticed that they were fidgeting nervously with the edge of their jacket. I looked down and realized I was doing the same thing with mine. “I don’t really like small talk,” they confessed. Surprised, I told them that I felt the same way.
Little by little, I pieced together the truth. It wasn’t that they didn’t like me, it was that they didn’t like small talk. What I had interpreted as proof of their disapproval of me was actually the normal and universal human emotions of discomfort, anxiety, and awkwardness.
This conversation was extremely instructive. I started re-examining past interactions and realized that most encounters that hadn’t gone the way I’d wanted actually had nothing to do with me. Instead of taking into account the other person’s insecurities, needs, and tendencies, I had concocted a false narrative in which I was the main character. Turns out, it wasn’t about me at all.
All this is to say, the next time you walk way from one of those horribly awkward conversations, before you jump to conclusions, take a minute to think. It might not’ve been about you at all.