Hypothetically speaking (of course), it would be wonderful if people understood everything about us before we spoke a word. We’d walk into a room, and the nuances of our hopes, dreams, pains, and desires would be simultaneously clearly apparent yet so obviously private that would could partake in beautiful, smoothly flowing conversation without ever ruffling a single feather.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) that’s not the reality of what interactive conversations are like in real life.
They involve us choosing how much to reveal, and how much to conceal. How much to share, and how much to observe. How much to respond, and how much to react. How much to give of who we are, and how much to hold back.
The realities of daily conversation are far more complicated than we’d like them to be, and yet that doesn’t change the fact that we so deeply desire to be seen. To be understood.
Apparently, we’re facing a real conundrum.
How are we supposed to cut through the push and pull of hesitation, and fear of rejection so that we can start building real relationships? Where on earth are we supposed to begin?
You’re not going to like my answer. Quite frankly, I don’t like it either.
We begin by getting uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the status quo. Uncomfortable with hiding behind our assumptions. Uncomfortable with standing afar off and passing judgment. Uncomfortable with resting in the refuge of lounging in what we think we know.
When we get uncomfortable with these things, we begin to open up. We catch a glimmer of the stories we’ve missed. We witness a snapshot of the pain we’ve overlooked. We start to see how our choices are contributing to the pain that sits between us. Or not. And we start to recognize that the good stuff, the places where difference can sit beside discovery, are hiding underneath.
It’s simply not the case that the nuances of what we wish people understood about our lives or our experiences will be magically transmitted via osmosis through the air. But it is true that we get a bit closer to beginning to grasp the corners of the spaces where we’ve missed each other when we’re willing to sit down together and learn how to share in ways that help us understand and be understood.