Life’s for sharing
Susie wonders if she’s maybe shared a little too much with us
“I hate small-talk, and would much rather have a conversation about something meaningful, even if it’s with someone I don’t know”
WHEN I first started out at the BBC as a production assistant, one of my jobs was to read the Sports news. There was a certain irony to this – I come from a family of sport-obsessed men, but am not an aficionado myself.
My parents lived in the neighbouring county and if my father was free he would drive to a lay-by where he could pick up the radio station and listen in to my broadcast. He would then ring me to tell me – in the nicest possible way – what pronunciations I had got wrong.
This is the kind of role my parents have played in my life all the way through; I have always been able to rely on their support and guidance. When I started writing this column more than 14 years ago, I would send them a copy to read before I emailed it to the editor. My father was an English teacher and no grammatical errors would get past him.
My mother, however, had other concerns. She was often worried that I was too open about myself and gave too much away. I saw her point, but didn’t really know how else to be. As time has gone on, I’ve realised that I am definitely an ‘over-sharer’ in life as a whole.
Enigmatic is not a word you would ever use to describe me. How I am feeling is etched on my face, and usually already coming out of my mouth before you’ve even asked “how are you?” There are a number of reasons for this. One is that I hate small-talk, and would much rather have a conversation about something meaningful, even if it’s with someone I don’t know.
Another is that I feel compelled to “fill the gap”. Any pauses in conversation, and I start speaking.
Sometimes I start a sentence just to say something (anything!) and actually have no idea where I am going with it. I often wonder what would happen if I didn’t do this – would we just stand there in an uncomfortable silence, or would someone else eventually fill the gap instead?
In meetings at work, I will tell myself beforehand not to say anything, under any circumstances. And then the boss will say those provocative words “any questions?” There will be a pause, where everyone looks a bit shifty, and then yours truly will suddenly find herself asking something. Internally I am shouting; “Remember what we agreed, Fowler-Watt? Keep your mouth CLOSED!” But it is too late.
And just look at me now. Here I am, telling you yet another of my personality flaws. Regular readers must know me pretty well after all this over-sharing. In this column I have talked about my infertility, ageing, mid-life crisis, parenting angst, and much more.
I will not be sending this column to my mother to read before it is published; I can see her eyes rolling now!
Above: Susie Fowler Watt at her home