What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say
I remember when being a child, it seemed ultimately important to me to learn how to have an impressive answer ready for every provocation. At first, it was like … “Hey, you silly, what’s with the glasses?” And I would just look down and pass by the group who was laughing at me. Because the girl, who said that, was the super cool child that everyone wanted to be like.
I was not that super cool girl. But it would have felt nice to be one back then. Actually it was not as much about being cool itself, I just wanted to be accepted. So I figured, if I learn how to say something even funnier (or should I say cooler?) back, maybe the group would acknowledge me as a one who could be accepted.
This was how I learned the cynicism, irony, sarcasm and other unpleasant “conversation techniques” that would irritate the people who were impolite to me more than their impoliteness hurt me.
Eventually I’ve even learned what to say when I had nothing to say. However this was actually not how I got accepted.
And then I grew up a bit.
I became nicer, I’ve taken a step forward (or backwards? — not sure anymore) and allowed myself to be the person who I was raised into. My kindness was many times mistaken for dishonesty, even an ironic joke. Realizing that many times words just don’t get where I would want them to, I started keeping the replies to myself.
Although I do have a list of replies to almost everything — a whole specter of them, from the worst to the nicest ones — always ready. But I don’t always use them. Sometimes it seems really difficult to react poperly, so I just stop right there.
I’d let it sit for a while and wait for the mess in my mind to clear up a bit. Just like when solving a math problem that you don’t know the answer to just yet. But you know it would sneak up from somewhere deep in your brain if you leave the thing beside and focus on something else.
According to the math-solving case, not doing anything before calming down seems the right thing to do. As well when it comes to reactions to emotionally engaging situations. It’s just that the older I get, the more it happens that I don’t say anything back, regardless how much time passes and how calm I feel. You know, because sometimes, among all the emotions overwhelming my body with physical pain and sickness, tiredness and powerlessness are the strongest feelings that stay for the longest. When I actually calm down, I don’t feel like there’s still something left to say.
And I am still learning not to feel bad for that. Because I know, I could do my best, explain and discuss if necessary, do everything just to get a step closer to the interlocutor. Just to do everything that’s in my power to make things O. K. But you know what, it doesn’t feel right exhausting myself for being misunderstood, misheard, or even ignored anymore. Not because someone just had an extra minute of their time to say something that doesn’t make any point to me. Don’t really care if it was a lowsy try of showing their power, a consequence of ignorance or because I am known to be nice to people, no matter what they afford to do or say, or because of simplemindedness, or maybe out of the boredom.
So, here’s what I came to …
When I don’t know what to say, to say nothing is just the right thing to do.
So, what do you say when you don’t know what to say?