Prologue (Can you have a prologue in a blog? Yes, you can. I’m doing it now.)
I’ve always been a people watcher. In elementary school, I’d find myself in painfully awkward moments of locked eye contact with another student because I was just studying them, out of boredom or curiosity, maybe.
In public places like malls and restaurants, I used to, and still observe people–conversations they’re having, looks they’re giving each other, body language. Some might even call me nosey. Fair enough.
The truth is, I moved around a lot as a kid. From school to school I’d have to find new friends and learn to fit in all over again. Part of what made that less painful was learning about the people at the new school I was going to.
For them, they got one new girl. For me, I got a whole new class, new school, new bus, a new neighborhood full of kids to get to know. So, I did.
Starting off pink-faced with new kid shy embarrassment, eventually, I’d find one kid to talk to and then another, and another, eventually filling the void of old friends, miles and sporadic phone calls away.
I would, of course, being the new kid, let them get their barrage of questions in. Then, it was my turn. “Do you like this school? How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you think vampires are real? Are your parents still together? Do you ever go on vacation? Where? If you could have any other name in the world, what would it be? Do you have any talents or superpowers?” And on and on.
Unoffended and with the childhood exuberance we only get to have for a short sweet period in this life, they’d answer. Long answers, exciting tales (not all true), and give me the look to ask more questions as they were eager to answer, and before we knew it, we were friends.
Somewhere along the way, being the new kid wasn’t fun anymore and I started keeping to myself. I’d still make friends, but not at the magnitude I did in earlier years. That pink-faced, new kid shy embarrassment began to follow me around all the time and morphed into this weird, quiet anxiety.
You are That Interesting
One, two, skip a few, here I am today. That same quiet anxiety is still there but is being ever so slowly pushed into a corner by my inner-curious, nosey, precocious, buck-toothed new girl.
Working as a contributing writer for an arts and entertainment community magazine, I get to interview a lot of stunningly brilliant, talented, unique, odd, funny, serious individuals that don’t often get interviewed. For me, it appeases my inner-new girl. I get to ask questions of people that for politeness sake, I wouldn’t get to ask in any other situation.
Only some of them believe in vampires.
Kidding! I don’t ask them that, though I’d love to. I ask questions like, “What are your passions–what do you fill your time with when you aren’t working? What is something not everyone knows about you? What does your future look like? What are you working towards? Who are you most connected to in life? Who and what inspires you?”
The one thing I hear so often that I think I could quote it in every story I write is, “There’s really nothing that interesting about me.” Or some variation, “You’re going to be bored to death hearing about my life. I don’t really have much going on. I’m not very interesting, really.”
At first, these responses were a bit frustrating if I’m honest. I had the feeling that I had to pull information out of people and feared that the story would come off as forced, not organic, not natural.
Where were all the snot-nosed third graders I was making friends with to help me fill my page with uncensored information about them?
I found the problem!
Quiet anxiety, unsure young-adult was asking the questions.
After realizing this, I corrected it. I try to ask questions with no holding back, hanging on every word, growing enthralled with their lives by the second. It’s a funny thing how interesting people become when you show a little interest.
From here, my stories came alive. A joy to write. I would come home and tell my husband the fascinating recounts from my day. It’s invigorating. Revitalizing.
Ask someone a question. Ask yourself a question. Any question.
Show some interest in someone, genuine interest, and be open yourself to others’ interest in you. I have stories that someone would want to hear–so do you.
Take it from someone that asks questions for a living, you really are that interesting.