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The Pressure to Say Something Brilliant

Updated on November 25, 2010

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.

Why do we like to socialize and be accepted?  Because we're social creatures, and that's how social creatures are.
Why do we like to socialize and be accepted? Because we're social creatures, and that's how social creatures are. | Source

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.

Telling a friend you appreciate them sounds nice, but actually showing it through shared experiences makes all the difference.
Telling a friend you appreciate them sounds nice, but actually showing it through shared experiences makes all the difference. | Source

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!

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    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Not bad, Johnny! Sometimes someone else has formed the perfect words for you...it can be handy to have a decent knowledge of succinct and thought-provoking quotations. And of course, Wilde doesn't disappoint!

    • Johnny Parker profile image

      Johnny Parker 

      7 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

      Nicely written Benny. I always find that piggy backing on someone else's brilliance is a good ploy in chit chat. Oscar Wilde has a treasure chest of gems - my favourite is "I can resist everything but temptation" - I can fit this in to smalltalk every day without fail!

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Karanda, thanks so much! I'm doing well, thank you; I hope you are just dandy. I've realized that the true impact of words lies not in an arbitrary "brilliance" but in their simplicity and honesty. Glad you got something out of that!

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 

      7 years ago from Australia

      BennyTheWriter, what a writer you are. I was captured in your words till I realised that what you were saying was actually quite brilliant. Thanks for the read and by the way how are you? I'm fine.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks clark farley, for your kind words--that is, the words you "would" have said! I still consider myself new as well, but you're off to a great start and have a very engaging literary style--looking forward to checking out more! Dare I return the favor and say, "Keep up the good work!"...

    • clark farley profile image

      clark farley 

      7 years ago

      ...welcome back*

      It is quite inviting, in an un-comfortable sort of way, here at the digito-literary singles bar that is the blogosphere. I will say, upon reading your Pos...er Hubs! I will say without reservation, good shit!

      Keep up the good work**

      *this is a rote, reflex "Welcome", as I am new to Hub Pages and as such have not read your work 'before you took time off' but if I had read it before, and I still enjoyed it, I might say something to this effect.

      ** also a boilerplate response; but since nearly everyone feels it is appropraite to say, 'Keep up the good work' who am I to abstain...no peer group pressures here, no sir!

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      epigramman: No way, my friend--you're a writer indeed! We all have access to our greatest potential; it's just a matter of acting on it. I had to overcome insurmountable obstacles and do great things, like joining HubPages, to learn that : )

      Thanks for your kind words!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      7 years ago

      ....well there's no pressure here my friend - your hubs always say something brilliant .......and you make me feel like Colin the wannabe writer - lol lol

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      Thanks Mark. Even if I didn't come across "brilliantly" I'm glad it flowed well--that's what's important!

    • Mark Ewbie profile image

      Mark Ewbie 

      7 years ago from UK

      Nice writing Benny. I like the cows come home reference, and I like the way you flow.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      bruzzbuzz: You're quite welcome! We worry so much about how we present ourselves, the facade we show to the world, and forget that it's who we are on the inside that really counts.

    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 

      7 years ago from Texas , USA

      Yes. Actions say so much more than words and that is brilliant of you to remind me that I need to be more brilliant with my actions. Thanks.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      gjfalcone: Thanks so much for stopping by. It's a common human dilemma: we all want to be accepted, but in seeking that acceptance we edit out parts of our personality, the "imperfectness" that makes us who we are. And I am a big believer in living up to your words as a writer (or any creative person utilizing any artistic medium, for that matter). That's how you'll best come across as sincere and find the greatest success!

    • profile image

      gjfalcone 

      7 years ago

      "The kind of pressure you feel not to sound too overwhelmingly stupid when you speak"...I think on that one I especially tend to share your fear.

      "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." Bravo Benny, I'm all over that in my writing as well...

      I think you've lived up to the title of your article. gjf

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      carolina muscle: Thanks my friend! Cheering you on.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I like your point.. and I'm gonna try to do it!

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      lorlie: I agree! True elegance and sophistication is effortless. It's getting to that point, that state of self-actualization and confidence, that requires the heavy legwork. Thanks for stopping by!

      Feline Prophet: Isn't it? I'm finding this to be true in my life and it's really challenging me to be more honest with myself and the rest of the world. It's a tough pill to swallow to realize you haven't been living up to your ideals, but it's also a golden opportunity.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      7 years ago

      How true. A lot of what we say is just lip service - it's hard work to live up to most of it!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Brilliance comes mostly when we aren't trying!

      Great job, Benny.

    • BennyTheWriter profile imageAUTHOR

      BennyTheWriter 

      7 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

      It feels great to come back to HubPages and find such an outpouring of support from my Hubber friends. Just sayin' :)

      QudsiaP1: Thanks!

      Jambo87: Thanks for the welcome bud! I already feel welcome actually. It's like you can come back to this place and just pick up where you left off. Glad you found my advice useful, as always!

      Mentalist acer: Great to hear from you, old friend! Smart strategy you offer, as well!

      samsons1: Thanks so much!

      ChrisLincoln: Yes, I've noticed...that "Hubversation" really does make my day and validate my opinions as a writer. It's part of what I like so much about this special part of the Web. Thanks for stopping by!

      Jai Warren: Thanks old buddy! You've hit the nail on the head, of course: genuine intent is key. More important than any "brilliant" words is the higher purpose of communication itself.

    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      First of all, great title! Secondly, it's funny, we waist all this anxious energy trying to come up with something "brilliant". The problem is, "we" don't determine what's brilliant... ours readers do! Human communication, whether face to face, or words on a page, must be genuine. No matter how mundane or complicated. Keep writing Benny... you're good. Well done, Ciao!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 

      7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California

      Benny,

      Brilliant.

      Job Done.

      For some bizzare reason I set myself personal deadlines, putting out a hub a day, Monday through Saturday, in what I call Hubseries. None of it has any real value though, until I get responses from my hubfriends. Those couple of lines can make my day. I think that may be the smalltalk component in this environment. Hubversation if you will...

      Chris

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up & useful! Very well done young man. You have knowledge and ability to converse, just give it a shot. Will be looking for more from you...

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Pick up a magazine and find an article that's a bit unique and re-write in into your own words,with opinion and outake;)

    • profile image

      jambo87 

      7 years ago

      Welcome back Benny. I, too, have been neglecting the Hub, though I am still quite fond of this community of writers. I think you give some solid advice here. Advice that I forget all to often.

      I especially liked this passage:

      "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. "

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 

      7 years ago

      Very well written.

      Thumb's up.

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