Given that twice a week I publish a blog post based upon my own life and experiences, you can probably assume that I’m a person who feels comfortable in talking about themselves. While I (obviously) do that quite often, I am far from comfortable with it. In fact, whenever I do find myself turning a conversation to a story about myself, a little voice in the back of my head pipes up:
“Nobody actually cares, you know? They’re probably annoyed that you’ve made this about yourself. You’re being really selfish right now, aren’t you? You should have just said nothing, or told them their story was interesting. You should ask people more questions about themselves. Nobody wants to hear this. Wrap it up.”
I hear this voice every single time I talk about myself. Somebody tells a funny story about their dog and I have a similar one about my own, so I start telling it, and immediately I regret it. I feel guilty for talking about myself. I’ve taken the shine off someone else. I’ve made it all about me. Every time I talk about myself, I feel bad about it.
Whenever other people apologise to me for “making the conversation about [themselves]”, I am quick to reassure them that there is no need to apologise. This is the way that conversations work, after all. When people talk they swap stories – we link them together as one long chain of tales, with big connections and small ones and ones that barely make any sense. There’s no need to apologise for telling me a story when I’ve finished telling mine. Sure, if I was interrupted midway through I’d be a little annoyed, but if I’ve finished? Take the floor; it’s all yours.
Sometimes, people apologise for telling me about themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and I’m always looking for little bits of inspiration and little things I can steal and adapt and twist into my stories and characters, but I love hearing people talk about themselves. I want to hear about the time you broke your leg or got lost in the supermarket. Please, tell me about the time your dog pulled you over and dragged you down the street, or how your brother once successfully backflipped onto his skateboard without falling down. I want to hear how you’ve had similar experiences to me, or how you haven’t. I don’t mind telling people that there’s no need to apologise, but it saddens me that they feel the need to do that in the first place.
I’m well aware that there are plenty of articles and studies and so on out there about the linguistic differences in the way women and men speak. How women will begin an email, “Sorry to bother you” while men are more unlikely (not that it won’t ever happen) to do so. If you type “Why women apologise” into a search engine there is no shortage of think-piece articles and research studies that will pop up, and they’re all written much more eloquently than the job I’m managing here. They discuss why we do it – that it’s linked to our idea of politeness, or that women see more acts as deserving of an apology than men do. I’m not writing this post to discuss why, though. I’m writing this post to remind you it’s okay to talk about yourself.
It’s okay to talk about yourself.
It’s okay to tell stories about yourself, and it’s okay to want people to hear about your day. It’s okay to make conversations about yourself, and it’s okay to want attention. It’s okay to want someone to validate your frustration if you’ve had a hard day at work. It’s okay to share a funny story – it’s even okay to share a funny story even if you’re the only person who thinks it’s funny.
You don’t have to apologise for existing and you don’t have to apologise for wanting to share your existence.
And if the people you’re talking to don’t want to hear it, then talk to me. You can tell me about your day. You can tell me what’s annoyed you and what’s made you happy. You should find people who want to hear about you because I promise you – you are worth hearing. You deserve to be heard.
You don’t need to apologise for talking about yourself.
Talk about yourself – more often, more loudly and with pride. You have stories worth sharing.
So, now, in the comments, feel free to say something. Anything. Tell me about your day; tell me about your trip to the dentist; tell me about something you’ve just remembered. Tell me about anything you’ve wanted to share this week but have stopped yourself because you didn’t think anyone would want to hear it. In the comments, talk about yourself without apologising.
Until next time, stay cool.