As I get older, I find it harder to communicate with others that I want to get to know better or begin to care about. I know I’ve become much more guarded and often react to statements by lashing out with cruel comments and know as soon as the words have left my mouth that I was a total dumbass. The best I can hope for is that someone accepts my apology and try to never repeat the same mistake again.
However, it’s not always what I say, it’s often the questions I ask. I push and push without realizing before it is too late that I’ve really hurt the person on the other end of what turns out to be an unplanned interrogation. I’m so worried that I will repeat past mistakes of other relationships that I ask the questions because I need to see how they’ve handled a situation. I don’t judge, but I do evaluate their answer. I know I sound like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s really very different.
Judging means that I think I’m superior or better than that person, but evaluating, well evaluating is accessing how that person handled a situation and pondering over whether I want to know more about this person. I already have a fear of allowing someone to get close to me, do you think I’m going to come and say “Hey, I’m going to ask a whole bunch of personal questions and if you think I’m going to let up on you, think again.” Honestly, I didn’t even know I did this until a friend told me I needed to be more sensitive with my questions. My heart sank as I hadn’t realized that I was dredging up a part of his life he didn’t want to necessarily talk about because he politely answered all of my questions. To this day, I still feel horrible that I hadn’t realized my questions, which I thought seemingly innocent, were actual painful to the person answering them.
I’d like to say this is the only area that I need to improve my communication skills in, but I’ve been so focused on getting over this rough patch in my life that at times I’ve become the worst version of me: self-centered and myopic. I truly care about my friends and family, but yet, I forget to ask the basic of all questions: How was your day…or What do you have going on? My sister recently called me out on this bad behavior and am grateful she did. I think you only become a richer individual by allowing others to share their lives with you. I was a history major in college and find it fascinating hearing about the lives of others, and while this may sound corny, I consider myself blessed that someone wants to share their life with me. I get a glimpse of life from another set of eyes and from a different perspective.
As I get older, I find it harder and harder to allow others to see or get to know me. There is a part of me which thinks people will find me boring or dull. What is worse is that there is another part of me that fears I’ll forget how to speak up when unhappy or hurt because throughout the years, I was conditioned to smile and not make waves. I chose partners that either didn’t like when I disagreed with them as they were insecure with a not-so-great temper and another who chose not to listen unless I either cried or screamed. At the end of the day, I realized I didn’t want to become the worst version of me to be heard….and frankly, it was too exhausting for me to continue life that way.
It’s funny, but over the years I’ve collected 2 Horton the Elephants. I’ve always loved the story that Horton’s able to hear what others can’t and eventually everyone discovers he’s not crazy and are also able to hear the people of Whoville. I thought I loved that story because Horton was very protective of the tiny village, but now realize it’s because I relate to the townspeople of Whoville. I am hopeful if I allow myself to open up and don’t shy away, I’ll find my Horton who is willing, wanting and able to hear what I have to say.