Even though I’ve been in college for awhile now, it’s still a struggle sometimes to be social and open to talk to anyone, especially if you’re the one having to initiate it. Having to initiate conversation and having someone initiate one with you sound the same, but actually feel very different. My conversation with Benjamin on Thursday reaffirmed this thought. Despite my efforts to arrive to class a little earlier (in hopes of not having to initiate a conversation), I still had difficulty finding people without a partner. Feeling a little awkward, I walked around and saw a rock with only one person sitting on it. I went to take a seat, and for an awkward 5 minutes, I sat there next to this guy and said nothing. In my head I was thinking “Just talk to him, he has no partner. The longer you wait, the more awkward it’ll be to start a conversation.” So I sucked it up and said “hi”, that’s when I met Benjamin.
Ironically, Benjamin was almost as awkward as I was, he seemed pretty reluctant to talk, but still willing because he had no partner either. Benjamin is a freshman business major from South Hills High School in West Covina. He lives on campus and seems mainly interested in academics, as the clubs he’s interested in are things like the Finance Club and Circle K. Occasionally he likes to skate, play basketball, and guitar. Most of the conversation went like this, just swapping basic information. I would ask a question, there would be an awkward silence while I write down some stuff, then he would ask a question, then so on and so forth. After only a brief amount of time we finished, and I realized some things.
I feel like the main difference between initiating conversation and someone initiating one with you is who leads it. When someone comes up to you and starts talking, they’re usually the one who asks about you. No matter what anyone says, it’s almost always easier talking about yourself rather than asking about someone else. So having to come up with questions to ask Benjamin was harder than I thought it would be, and all he had to do was repeat the questions back at me. He occasionally asked me questions too and I’d get to return them, but then an awkward silence would follow and I’d have to initiate it again. What I took away from this is that I should probably be the one to initiate conversations more often. I feel like that’s the only way to get better at it, and ultimately not feel awkward talking to people.