Imagine yourself in a conversation with some of your friends. One person mentions something – maybe it’s a new movie that just came out, your favorite book, or a hobby of yours – whatever it is, it’s something you’re passionate about. Suddenly, you find yourself exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, I love [that thing]!” and you end up talking a mile a minute, expressing your enjoyment of the aforementioned Thing.
Okay, so maybe it doesn’t always happen that way, but we’ve all had those moments where the conversation turns towards something that we love, and we can’t help talking about it. Whether it’s a hobby, a form of media, a cause, or just one of our favorite things, we all have stuff that we’re passionate about and love talking about.
However, I think we’ve all also had those moments where we feel like we’re talking too much about The Thing. It’s the feeling of self-doubt creeping in and telling you that you’re talking too much, no one cares, and you should just shut up.
Today, I want to talk about talking, specifically, talking about the things we love. It’s hard, it’s awkward, and sometimes, it can be embarrassing. But we all have things we enjoy and want to share with the world, so how do we do it? For me, it really just comes down to two simple principles.
The first principle is Don’t Apologize. For many of us (myself included), it’s tempting to start apologizing for our ramblings about the things we care about. We get embarrassed and say things like “I’m sorry I’m talking so much!” or “I’m sorry I took over the conversation!” and I get that. When the person we’re talking to gives us a blank stare, we might feel as though we’ve inconvenienced them, and we want to remedy that by apologizing.
But here’s the thing – You don’t have to apologize for your passions. Unless you were being outright rude, like interrupting someone (which can happen accidently), talking about the things you love is nothing to apologize for. Your interests are just as important as those of the person you’re talking to, and you have every right to talk about them as they do.
So say it with me: Don’t apologize for talking about the things you love.
When you apologize like this, people will often brush it off as nothing (“It’s fine”). A good friend, however, will reassure you that there’s no need to apologize, which leads me to my next point.
Focus on the people who really listen. Here’s something I’ve learned: Your closest friends don’t have to share every single one of your hobbies and interests. Yes, of course it’s good to share a few, because that’s probably how you got connected in the first place. But the fact is you’ll be pretty hard-pressed to find someone who cares about the exact same things you do – and that’s okay!
What I think is more important is having friends who really listen, even when they have no idea what on earth you’re talking about. For example, I can text Kiara and be like this:
And even though Kiara didn’t really know what I was talking about (it was Ace Attorney, if you’re wondering), she still listened to me. She let me rant about the game that emotionally tore me apart, and it was very kind of her to listen, and it helped me a lot too.
This type of listening goes both ways though – remember what I said about your close friends probably won’t share the exact same set of interests? It’s important that both people in the friendship feel comfortable sharing about the things that are important to them, even if the other person doesn’t care about those things in the same way. If Person 1 has space to talk about their new guitar and Person 2 listens even though they don’t know what a chord is, Person 1 should listen and give Person 2 space to talk about their latest web design project, even when they don’t know a thing about HTML.
Without this reciprocated listening, a person can begin to feel like their friend doesn’t care, or that their personal interests aren’t important or “good enough” for their friend. Trust me, I’ve been there. It hurts, and it can cause a lot of trouble for a friendship if left alone.
There are two ways of resolving this, and both require courage. The first route is to talk to your friend and tell them what you’re feeling, which will probably be scary, but worth it. Chances are, they might not even realize that you’re feeling unsupported. They might feel awkward listening to you talk because they’re not sure how to contribute to the conversation when they know nothing about the subject. If that’s the case, then you can offer to teach them – if you like baking, show them some easy recipes. Though they may not be an expert anytime soon, you’ve cleared the air between you.
The second route is also frightening, but sometimes necessary. If you’ve been continually shut down by a friend (intentionally or not) and they always dominate the conversation with their interests, sometimes you have to make the choice to step back. I don’t mean to cut them out of your life completely, but it may be best to find someone who respects your interests as much as their own.
It comes down to this: Your passions and interests are valid, and you don’t need to apologize for them. Good friends will listen to you and encourage you in those areas, so focus on that. In the end, you’ll find that talking about things you love isn’t as hard as you might’ve thought.