I was walking my dog recently and she started playing with another dog.
My heart froze as the other dog walker looked at me smiling and said: ‘we’re walking the same way, we can have a natter as they play.’
I’m an introvert. I could happily go for days or weeks without speaking to anyone outside of my immediate family.
I’m generally bad at small talk… I’m awkward, I’m uncomfortable and I want it to stop. I’ll pretty much do anything to avoid it, in fact.
But here’s the thing, this doesn’t mean I’m unfriendly or that I dislike people. A lot of people who know me might not even think I’m an introvert, as my nerves often display in over-talking, fast talking almost bordering on mania.
Thing is, people fascinate me, that’s half of the reason I write.
But I’m not really interested in the surface chat people wear to hide themselves. It’s useful to witness these masks (as an author) but they don’t interest me massively on a personal level.
As luck would have it, quite often, people seem to pick up on this don’t put me through the trauma.
For example, here are 5 things I now know about the stranger I recently shared a 15-minute dog walk with:
- She had her son by IVF
- Her sister has a daughter the same age as her son
- She works full-time but her husband doesn’t help her out at home or with their son or the dogs and she’s exhausted
- Her husband is scared of his boss (who doesn’t have children of her own) so he works from 7am to 8pm and rarely even asks for time off. Despite having her own career, she has to take all the paid and unpaid leave to keep on top of ‘life stuff’.
- She works with a lot of alpha males and when they do Zoom calls, none of them seem to have children or dogs or other chaotic life things going on in the background like she does and she worries constantly that they’ll wonder why they employed her and get rid of her.
She’s carrying a lot, this dog-walking stranger.
I left her and came home and she never left me… she’ll probably end up being the start of a character in one of my novels, if I’m honest… that’s one of the hazards of talking so openly to an author.
People do often tend to overshare with me, I don’t know why.
You see, I might not be good at the surface stuff, the small talk. But the stuff underneath that? I’m all over it.