A Silence That Still Persists

For a few years, people consider me to be the “extrovert.”  That’s how many of my peers and teachers would describe me after my contributions to student leadership and public speaking in general (or “euphonious diatribes”).  I suppose that due to pressure from exams and college applications, I’ve recently gotten a little quieter.  I yell a lot softer; it’s hard to get me to be “less loquacious” than I already am, but it’s really a facade.

The only exception is with a friend of mine.  I really don’t have a pseudonym for him this time, so we’ll refer to him in the personal pronoun.  When I’m with him, I rarely talk.  He’s often the one initiating the conversation, and each conversation doesn’t exactly last very long.  Typically, even when it’s with people who I rarely associate with or have little to no mutual interest in anything, we can still somehow get some conversation going.  It’s not the same with him.

It’s a little odd, to be perfectly frank.  We do have some common interests, such as our love for reading and existentialism, or our inclination to think in a more “humanitarian” fashion.  Many had expected us to be really good friends — which we are.  But a lot of the times, I don’t really know what to talk about with him.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s a great guy.  Our chats are always enriching, not to mention profound, but the problem is that even though I’m absolutely dying to, I often don’t know how to continue the conversation.  What he talks about, be it about Philosophy, Politics, Economics…or even life, is always downright mind-blowing (in a good way.  A very good way).  I know he would never intend to do something like it because he’s really humble, but I somehow feel so, well, “intellectually inferior” that I can never bring myself to actually say anything in response that could possibly be anywhere as interesting as what comes out of his mouth.  In the end, we just sit in silence and I’ll look out into a distance (partially due to my inability to make eye contact) until he sparks another interesting discussion a few minutes later.  And the cycle goes on.

I really like this guy (as a friend), and I really want to be able to talk to him “properly,” so to speak.  It sometimes feels awkward when I can’t keep our chats flowing like how I’m usually able to with other people.  Is this some psychological thing I’m feeling that I’m overlooking or just not willing to accept, or am I really just not capable of establishing a secure connection with him (the analogy sounds like Wi-Fi)?

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3 thoughts on “A Silence That Still Persists

  1. In many ways, your story echoes mine. Feeling intellectually inferior, not knowing how to continue the conversation, wanting to be able to talk to the other person properly but not being able to… I’m pretty sure that a lot of my silence has to do with wanting to impress the other person. Initially, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find anything to say, but eventually I realised that I do a lot of self-censoring and that when I do think of something to say, I tend not to say it because of fear that what I say will make me sound stupid.

    A psychological thing you’re feeling that you’re overlooking and not being able to establish a secure connection aren’t mutually exclusive. It could be that there’s some psychological thing you’re feeling that is causing you to not feel completely safe around him (not because you don’t trust him, but because you don’t trust yourself…possibly because you think that if he saw you the way you saw yourself, he’d leave).

    Good luck figuring this out, though. I wish you and ‘him’ all the best.

    1. A week later (i.e. today), it’s not really “any better,” so to speak. Oh well; I guess some friendships do tend to be like that. Like, even when we have a lot in common doesn’t necessarily mean that we’d have a lot to talk about, especially under the influence of my…perceptions. It must be perfectly normal though, even when I’m with my friends: there are situations when there are a few silences, but they don’t last very long. But then again, maybe it’s because I’m more comfortable with them, especially because I see them virtually everyday. As for ‘him,’ I see him roughly once a week so it could be a drastically different situation. Eh…

      1. It takes a lot longer than a week for things to change…
        The thing is, although some friendships do seem to be like that, it doesn’t sound like your friendship is. Clearly you guys have a lot to talk about (he seems to manage to find things to say), so it would seem that there is something going on.
        It could be a matter of not seeing him every day or it could be the fact that he doesn’t make you feel secure and safe, or both, or something else entirely. Situations like these are always tricky. Whatever the case may be, though, it still wouldn’t hurt to address your feelings of intellectual inferiority. I highly, highly doubt you’re intellectually inferior and the fact that you feel that way could be a problem down the road if it isn’t one already.

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