The Pressure to Say Something Brilliant
Ever felt it before? I'm feeling it right now, actually. That's why I'm writing this Hub.
Since coming to HubPages and finding it to be an extroadinary community of creative, crazy and lovable people, I've suffered some burnout in my personal life. In addition to that, I feel like I've let what I've started here fall to the wayside. The drill sergeant in my head who commands me to WRITE! has become a gradually fading voice in the wind. I haven't yet participated in any HubChallenges. I suppose you could say I've lost some of that initial fire.
But it hasn't been quenched altogether!
I'm writing for two reasons: to let my Hubber friends know that I'm still here and still determined to keep "hubbing" 'til the cows come home (even though I've never owned, much less lost, a cow), and to acknowledge yet another one of those human mysteries I've been mulling over: the pressure we feel to say something brilliant.
You know, the kind of pressure to arrange your words just right before your boss, a client, your parents, a new love interest--anyone you want to earn the respect and trust of. The kind of pressure you feel not to sound too overwhelmingly stupid when you speak.
Why do we feel such pressure?
We forget that we'll be accepted as we are
Chances are, if you're reading this, you're human. You may or may not have noticed that you are in constant contact with others of your own species. Side effects may include occasional self-doubt, a strange compulsion to be around other humans that you're fond of, and a desire for peace, happiness and fun.
It's true what they say about us--we're definitely social creatures, and we seek comfort from associating ourselves with others like us (i.e., other members of the homo sapiens club).
You know you're human, yet you feel anxiety when you have to "speak up" and voice your opinions or random thoughts. What you might often forget is that everyone is anxious for acceptance. People are too caught up in their own thoughts--their own need to "fit in"--to judge you as harshly as you might constantly think. More often than not, in more cases than you think, you'll be accepted for who you are.
We forget the more important aspects of our interactions
Whenever we make small talk, it's easy to get caught up in--blinded by--the small stuff. A conversation about the weather, for example, seems so meaningless and automatic that it's accepted as a way to talk without talking, to connect with people without truly investing your emotions, divulging secrets and curiosities, or making yourself vulnerable.
The common greeting and initial exchange:
"Hello, how are you?"
"I'm good/great/wonderful/[insert BS here]!!! How are you?"
"Great/just fine/perfectly dandy, thank you!"
But we all know this kind of talk doesn't really meet our needs. It serves a worthy purpose, and anyone with a modicum of social intelligence will easily make use of such conventional speech...but it doesn't get to the heart of the matter.
My point is, there's a underlying human element to every interaction. There's something powerful, alive, and brimming with emotion in every exchange of "how was your weekend?" and tidbits about office life. You're talking to a person who has needs, desires, aspirations, perhaps even desperations that coarse through his or her veins just as yours do yours. Recognize that and have empathy for that. Connect to that primal energy you both have in common, and you'll realize that you can turn insignificant small talk into something very significant--even satisfying.
We forget that actions speak louder than words
All too often, we place more value on the words that are spoken than on the actions taken to back them up. We can get nervous and flustered, trying to arrange our thoughts into neat sentences in our heads, not really listening to the other person, but aiming for the right place to interject our proudly-forged and styled musings into the conversation. But we miss the whole point.
It's not the words that matter, it's what we do in our daily lives--the measure of how well we live up to those words--that counts. Do we make promises and then fail to keep them? Do we profess an interest, say in photography or pottery or writing a novel, and then not pursue it? Do we claim a creed or a belief, and can others see our devotion to it through our lifestyles?
Or even: do we ask a person out on a date, and then not demonstrate an honest curiosity about that person, preferring instead to stay inside our own minds? Do we tell a friend to keep in touch, and God forbid we should lift a finger to call them and arrange activities ourselves? Do we say "I love you" to friends, partners or family members, and then find no room in our busy schedules to spend quality time with them?
I'm not suggesting ruthless introspection. I'm saying that we should, perhaps, place more value on what we do in life, rather than what we say. Actions speak louder than words.
So I encourage you: let your words be awkward, unpolished, imperfect. Embrace your stutters and your gaffes and chalk them up to experience--call it evidence that you're truly living your life. It's the person you are that counts. (Something that I'm now acknowledging myself, by the way. If I'm going to join HubPages and create a profile as BennyTheWriter, and get more love and support from fellow Hubbers than I thought possible, I'd better live up to my name and write!)
All to say: live a brilliant life, and you should never feel the pressure to say brilliant things!