If you ask me, I’ll tell you to text me and never call. Even before the digital age, something about holding the phone up to my ear and letting my cracked soprano voice pierce the receiver made me uneasy. I hate talking because I don’t like the sound of my own voice. Couple that with the fact that I am a natural introvert who plays shy when most convienent, I’ve always thought phone conversations to be a bit weird.
However, when transitioning from middle school to high school I got my first cell phone. It was a cute little blue and silver flip phone that I was told only to use during emergencies. I giggle now thinking about how, in those days, I’d wait up until 9pm to text my friend and coordinate what we’d wear to school the next day. (You know, because when cell phones first because popular the free minutes were after 9pm. Yes, I’m that old.) It was through texting that I was able to learn how to really hold a conversation.
Being shy I always wrote things down. My journal has and always will be my best friend. No one taught me in Kindergarten or elsewhere how engage when speaking. For the most part, my experience was that people talked and you listened and if, by chance, you had something interesting to say you would. If not, you’d nod in agreement, laugh or giggle and keep it pushing; which is why being on the phone sucked, I couldn’t read body language. I like to watch people talk, see their lips move, follow their hands and see the rise in the chest as the breath leaves their mouth. It’s like poetry to me. And texting, well it became my muse. I’ve always known that words have meaning but none so pregnant with purpose as those typed into a text message. It seemed to me, that texters are more direct with their words which makes them more impactful. All the fluff is gone and what you are left with is meaning. Perhaps, conversations were intimidating to me because I had very little to say. Or rather, a lot to say in a few words.
I found that through texting, I could say exactly what I wanted quickly and succintly without those awkward silences and constant shifting of the phone receiver from my left ear to my right.
I’m older now and I find myself, more often than not, picking up my iPhone and dialing up one person or another. My days consist of writing (of course), face-to-face meetings and Jamba Juice with friends. I suppose one can say I am becoming more social. I’ll put it this way: I’ve learned to talk. I’ve learned that conversation awakens my senses and fulfills me in a way that was foreign to me. Expressing my thoughts and feelings has always been reserved for writing. Through writing I developed my thoughts and overtime I realized, all that great, incredible thinking could not be appreciated by anyone but me if I kept it in my journal. Therefore, I had to learn how to talk to people. It was a must!
Whereas my pre-teen years offered little substance and content to effectively engage with others, my life experiences now has compelled me to interact and exchange with people. I am becoming savvy with technology and too with how I communicate with others. We now have so many options from texting, to video chatting, e-mail, social media and various other messaging platforms. I now have to decide the best way to communicate with certain people and while doing so figure out how to get the most value out of that interaction. I realize I like to talk and be heard and listen and be enlightened. I am still shy just a little more open to new experiences. I am learning to appreciate the unique quality of my voice and answer the phone when someone calls. Likewise, I’m learning when to shut up because I’ve said too much.