Thursday, 30 August 2012

To talk, or not to talk? I know. Let's just talk about something else

Sometimes, I think we all share a bit too much.

We've never revealed so much information about ourselves on so many subjects, to so many people, all at the same time. Many of us spend entire hours of the day telling people what we're doing and thinking at any given moment; making careers, friends, relationships and sometimes even enemies in the process.

Companies are spearheading the sharing movement; it works for them. We tell them what we like, what we don't like, we tell our friends what we said to the companies, and the companies what we said to our friends. The need to tell doesn't stop at brand pages. We sit in a pub and upload our thoughts to the internet and out loud to those around us, or check online to see what other people have said - sharing, always sharing - but rarely coming to any conclusions.

Sharing is good - it's caring, or so we're told - but sometimes sharing can be counterproductive.

The way I see it, some people are natural talkers. They talk as a way to get things off their chest, to reassure themselves. They talk to one person, then another, then another, until a situation, issue or problem has been covered multiple times from every angle. They discuss, analyse, consider, gather opinions, then put down the phone then do it again - answering texts or WhatsApp messages in between calls.

Others are slightly more reticent about opening up out loud. It's not that the issue bothers them any less, but instead of talking they might write it down, think it all through, read a book about it, and brush off intrusions in the shape of questions from Talkers. Questions that usually begin "So, what's happening with...?", staving off discussion until they've reached their own conclusion. They select one or two people to confide in about what's going on - a close friend who has picked up some discord in their voice - but they rarely take the issue to the floor.

Neither approach is better than the other in my experience, and we've all probably given both a go at some point. Naturally, the Talkers are bound to be irritated slightly by the Non Talkers, and visa versa. But the point remains: everyone deals with problems differently.

The problem I had recently was that I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to analyse why, after two months of meeting up and being in regular contact as friends, the Ex dropped off the radar again. I had nothing to contribute to my friends' questions about our latest departure from each others lives; no new insight to give. In lieu of facts, and not being a Talker, I had no burning desire to discuss the "maybes" and "perhaps".

It played on my mind, but I answered all queries with "I don't know. I couldn't even speculate" - because I couldn't. I found out he was ok, at least, then let it go. The whole Ex episode was like having a best mate back from abroad for a few months, having a brilliant time together, then having them go away again - and that's just how life goes sometimes. I missed his company, but things are what they are. Normal service, I knew, would eventually resume.

Days later, along came a Zebra. One brilliant night of promises and excitement which in the end, came to nothing. Yet again, talking about it in any depth seemed pointless. Still, I was asked about this boy I'd only met once, usually after days when I hadn't thought about him at all. I appreciated the care, the interest: but couldn't see the point in discussing silence.

And so, spiralling downwards and bogged down by the need to share and talk and discuss the same old things, I went on holiday for eight days - by myself. I booked flights and accommodation in a hostel. I went to a little known place in a well known country, with the aim of seeing what it was like, and finding something new to talk about.

I met people from America, Holland, people from the UK, from London, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Italy. I met walkers, cyclists, backpackers, holidayers, surfers, groups, pairs, and solo summer sojourners. Some I knew for an evening, others for the whole week.

We talked about travel, politics, backpacking, food, drinks, partying, drugs, toilet habits, and embarrassing moments. We discussed books, films and technology, and nothing at all. We shared funny stories about friends no one else knew, exes no one had heard of, brilliant nights out in countries some of us had never visited, weirdos we'd met in strange clubs. We got pissed. We sat on bunk beds, lay on beaches, relaxed by the pool, cooked and ate.

No one asked me whether I'd heard from my Ex. No one wondered if the boy I hooked up with one night ever got in touch, or what I thought about this friend or that one - and something remarkable happened - it all paled into insignificance.

I flew back to the UK feeling upbeat, positive, and resolving to do it all again another time.

"No, that's done now," I said to the Housemate, not answering her question directly, as I returned home and she returned to an old subject. "New leaf, positive mental attitude 'n' all that. No more talking about him, or them. Fresh start. I'm over it."

And for the first time in a very long time - thanks to a holiday on my own - I really, really was.


Anonymous said...

Am very glad the holiday made you feel this way.
I'm going back myself if I can afford it...

nuttycow said...

I love going on holiday on my own for that very reason - it's so nice to meet new people, experience new things, be yourself... or not. You can, if it pleases you, sit on your own with a vat of wine and a book. Or you can organise a game of strip billiards. Whatever you like.

Well done on taking up the challenge. I'm glad you had fun and I'm glad that you feel so much better as a result.

Blonde said...

Excellent news. Sometimes getting away really can just change perspective on everything. Glad you had such a good time.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, you just have to deal with things how you want to and everyone else just has to deal with that.
I'm really pleased for you x

Agent said...

Travel is awesome. You can start a conversation with anyone using just one opener: "Hi, where are you from?".

Well.. maybe two, because sometime you have to start with "Hi, I'm from.." instead. But that's pretty much the same thing.

Despite the internet being such a global thing, that approach just doesn't work so well here as it does in real life.

modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

Here's a question - do you think the designer of the Russian Olympic Tracksuits should be shot or simply put in a gulag?

Ellie said...

Makes me want to go away alone; except that I am away, and alone and I'm bugging myself with my own questions. I suppose that happens too. ;-) x

Robbie said...

Man I Need a holiday. If only for the toilet talk.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Mealie - Definitely a top suggestion. Thank you again x

nuttycow - Exactly that, the choice to do whatever you want is something you just don't get at home all the time, or with other people on holiday.

Blonde - It was laavveelllyyy!

thechickenshop - Yep, it's difficult though because friends only mean well, but sometimes they do tend not to let things lie.

Agent - Agree. It's actually really refreshing to have to spark up conversations in real life again. Like, conversations that have no agenda other than "we're in the same place, at the same time, so let's chat".

modelofa - Just googled. Wow. They are impressive. Like a magic eye painting or something.

Ellie - Book into a hostel and meet some people who'll take your mind off things :) x

Robbie - There were a lot of toilet stories on this holiday.

London-Lass said...

Welcome back Jo. Nice to see the change of scenery (and people) have left you feeling tickety-boo :)


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