Thursday, March 19, 2009
Just Keep Talkin'
My family has always given me a hard time about how much I talk. The truth is, we're all big talkers, every last one of us. Only we have so much to say that we think everyone else in the family talks more than we do as we sit and wait, often not too patiently, for our turn to speak. I hear stories from people who grew up in large families and learned to eat quickly if they wanted to eat at all; otherwise, the food was gone before they had a chance to fill up. That's how air time is in our family: use it up quickly or it will be gone before you have the chance to fill it up.
So I became a fast talker as well as a many-words talker. When I would read aloud in school or church, my teachers always had to ask me to slow down so the class could understand what I was saying. When I give talks in church now, my margins are filled with "Slow Down!" warnings. Of course, no one is going to interrupt me while I give a talk (unless I stray too far from doctrine, but even then, if I speak quickly enough, who will notice, right?), but I still have this learned need to say what I have to say as fast as I can so people won't (a) interrupt or (b) break eye contact before I finish my point (a huge huge HUGE pet peeve of mine, by the way).
My oldest son has picked up on my habit. He's my shyest child, very much like I was at his age, but when he finds a listening ear, he can prattle on for hours if allowed to. Even I have to ask him to slow down on occasion so I can understand what the heck he's saying. He just has so much to talk about, and I completely understand. I think that when you're introverted, you have more time than your peers to just sit and think and listen, and whereas they may spread their 7000-word quota out over the course of 12 hours, you squeeze yours into the few hours during which you're around people with whom you feel comfortable. (I've read that men say about 7000 words a day and women 20,000. If you count how many phone calls I have to make in the course of a day to keep our family running smoothly, how many places I have to go and interact with people--from the grocery store to the school to doctors' offices, I can believe that number, so to say women simply talk more than men may be an overly simplistic assessment.)
I've noticed as I've grown older that when I'm around people who don't come anywhere close to using their quota--at least not around me--I tend to blather on more than usual, trying to fill up the silence. Sometimes I mock myself for what I end up dumping into that silence, but most of the time I figure that if they're not talking, someone has to. (Yes, has to.)
I've learned since college to let other people talk, however, so I don't assume a break for breathing means it's my turn. I would like to think I'm not as self absorbed as I once was and that I ask as many questions as I answer. I hope people feel I'm genuinely interested in what they have to say . . . because I genuinely am interested. Of course, I always like to tell stories, but I also love to hear them.
So this is me filling up the silence of my blog. Yes, it's easily the equivalent of talking to myself. But that's another topic entirely.