Friday, January 4, 2013

Interesting Things

Do you like it when I follow a posting schedule, Reader?

Today I am sharing a question I used to hate.

"Tell me something interesting about yourself..."

This question comes up for various reasons, but it's usually intended as an ice-breaker, something to start conversation.  As much as I love to talk, I usually find it incredibly difficult to come up with something.  In this regard, I am not unique-- most people find it difficult to come up with something interesting about themselves.  Simply put, we find our own lives to be boring.

For instance, consider that every day I wake up before dawn, go through my morning routine, and then drive to work, usually witness to the sunrise.  I work in a nuclear power plant as an instructor.  I teach leadership training!  Before I took my current job, it didn't exist.  I do all of this with only a high school diploma…  (and ten years of experience in the US Navy).  In the Navy, I qualified as a reactor operator on December 18th .  I got my driver’s license on December 19th...  To my knowledge, this makes me the only person to have been legally able to independently operate a reactor before being legally able to operate a car!   I was on USS Enterprise when she went dead in the water in 2005.  I was once told by a self-proclaimed psychic that I was the most well-balanced person she had met.  When I laughed, she countered that most people are either artistic or technical—she clearly saw me as a 50/50 split of both— Note: for the first half of my life I lived as if I was going to be a musician/artist/writer.  The second half of my life I've lived as if those dreams couldn't ever come true, and devoted myself to technically based careers.

And all I can think about all of that is, so what?  

To you, these facts might seem neat.  These facts might stir up interests or questions.  You may want to know more.  You may want to share similar stories.  For you, these facts are tools used to build connections.  But to me, these facts represent small events in my life, events that were surrounded by much bigger ones.  Some of the events were painful.  Some still are.  To me, these facts are just facts.  Data points in the slipstream of my travels. 

This double standard is one of the many obstacles to communication.  It’s a lesson in Empathy.  From now on, when someone asks you to share something interesting about yourself, approach your life from their perspective instead of from yours.  In fact, don’t even wait for someone to ask you!  Imagine the sense of wonder and amazement that can be renewed within you simply by changing your perspective of your life and your routine!  By keeping a child's mind, a mind open and free from preconceived notions, you can experience unbridled joy and awe...  It's a beautiful thing.  A humbling thing.

I challenge you to think of an event in your life that you consider mundane, and re-frame it in the vantage point of someone you've just met.  Feel free to share your event (ahem, your tool used to build connections) in the comments!

Until Next!

PS:  I just realized that I started by saying I was sharing a question, and yet quoted a request that was clearly not worded as a question.  I could have edited that, but then you wouldn't have gotten to share a chuckle with me!  Tee Hee!


pixiekhatt said...

You know, I thought about this and realized people already know something about me when they approach me. Either we have a mutual friend or I volunteer something about myself without realizing it, but I can't remember ever being asked this question.

I'd like to think I'd offer up that I play video games if someone asked, but that's usually a dead subject for women (as there are few women who game, in earnest) and.. guys don't usually talk to me alone, unless they're much older, so it's still a dead subject. Hmm.

I guess the subject that would be interesting to most people would be the time I spent in Germany (nearly a quarter of my life).

Mel L said...

I didn't realize your time in Germany was a quarter of your life! I am intrigued! I am also intrigued that you say that guys don't usually talk to you alone unless they're much older. I find that men my own age tend to overlook me as an object of affection, but those older boys (like my hubby, haha) seem to dig me. I don't know why that is!

pixiekhatt said...

Yeah, I'm 29 and I spent 7 years in Germany. Actually, more, if you count the years I spent there as a small child (that I have few memories of). Closer to a third, if you count those. O.O Forgot about those.

To be fair, when I say older guys, I mean like, old-enough-to-be-my-father-and-I-definitely-couldn't-think-of-them-in-/that way/ kind of older. I could go into the reasons I don't think guys my age tend to look at me in /that way/, but I don't think you want to see how riddled with holes my self-esteem is. ^_^

Mel L said...

You've been in Germany for so much your life! That. Is. Awesome!

I tend to attract a range of ages around 10-20 years older than my own self. Weird, eh? And am I an asshole...? When you said I don't want to see how riddled with holes your self-esteem is, a lyric ran through my brain hole: "Let me see you stripped down to the bone". Damned Depeche Mode, invading my thoughts! We're all broken in some fashion, I think. It's like Leonard Cohen croons in "Anthem": "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in".

Thank you for reading my blog, and for being a brave and loyal commenter! I'd love to read some of your own writings sometime! :D

Veronica said...

This was one of the posts I was trying to comment on before and was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, now I can't remember what my stellar comment said... Haha!

It had something to do with my parenting. It's really difficult for me to hang out with someone new and walk away without them knowing I have a kid with special needs. I don't know why that's so hard for me, but it feels like they've missed the most important thing about me if they don't know that. Why I even think they need to know "the most important thing about me" is beyond me... but it seriously feels like an elephant in the room, until I say it (which is hilarious when you consider they know nothing about it, until I say it). Anyhow, sure there are other interesting things about me, but this seems to be the one thing that people are the most curious about. Because it comes up so often, it can start to feel mundane for me, but it turns out that people love hearing about that part of my life... so I tell it. I do enjoy challenging myself to find other connections with people, though. I can't exactly find out how we are the same if I spend all of my time talking about how we are different! (And both are equally important in getting to know someone).

On a side note, I enjoyed reading what you shared about yourself. Thank you!