their turn to speak

fight club is arguably one of the most brilliant movies of all time. i loved it so much, i wrote a narrative theory paper on it in college. the best part of the research process was getting to watch the movie over and over and memorizing pretty much the entire script.

today i was reflecting on this particular quote:

“when people think you’re dying, they really, really listen to you…instead of just–“

“–instead of just waiting for their turn to speak?”

thankfully, i can’t currently attest to the first part of the quote – i’m not dying. (though as jack would argue, in the tibetan-philosophy, sylvia-plath-sense-of-the-word i know we’re all–we’re all dying, right?). but i feel like i might have just a tiny handful of people in my world who really, really listen – instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

maybe it’s because i talk too much. i’m not exactly shy, and i tend to say what’s on my mind. i’m sure it gets repetitive sometimes. that’s what happens when there are ongoing pieces of your world that aren’t changing, right? things stay the same – and if you’re a talker, you keep talking about it. i totally understand where that gets tiresome.

but it’s more than just that. you ever throw out something that happened in your day and before you even finish the thought, your listener interjects with “oh i know, that’s like this time that…”? so you kind of give up and swallow your thought-that’s-now-an-afterthought. when it happens once or twice, it’s no big deal – or even if it’s an ongoing-but-occasional trait in a friend. but when it becomes the norm, you start shutting down instead of sharing. the message you’re getting over and over is that your world isn’t important, that they don’t care about your contribution to the conversation. you’re simply a prompter. a platform for their thoughts, their feelings, their experiences.

i like to give the benefit of the doubt and think that maybe we’re just wired to want to relate and to share experiences. and sometimes we get so caught up in that notion that we unintentionally hijack the whole thought train.

but the older i get, the more irritated i get by conversation hijackers. so then i get hyper-conscious about my own behavior – i’ll kick my own ass whenever i catch myself hijacking. but i also find myself giving up much, much faster when the hijacking happens to me, and that makes me sad.

i care deeply about my friends. i want to know about their experiences. i want to ask them questions and explore how they feel, see what they think.

but sometimes, you hope they return the favor.

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