I had my hair cut over the weekend. I hate getting my hair cut, because it means having to make small talk with the hairdresser. I dread it, and sometimes I put off getting a hair cut for months and months for this reason.
This time, I sat down in the chair and started desperately trying to think of something to say. I was drawing a blank, and was starting to panic. Then the hairdresser said, “I’ve cut your hair before, haven’t I?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Last time you were planning to go out for a date night that evening, weren’t you?”
“Yes, it was my wedding anniversary. You have a really good memory. I’m impressed; you must talk to a lot of people.”
“Yeah, but I always remember the clients who talk a lot,” she said. “You talked the whole time. Most people just sit there and don’t say anything.”
This was one of those moments that take me aback and force me to do a mental adjustment. Most people sit there and say nothing? So while I’m stressing myself out thinking I have to talk, other people are just sitting there thinking their own thoughts and waiting for it to be over? Is that what normal people do? That’s what I want to do, but I thought it would be rude. As much as I hate small talk, I hate the thought of making anyone feel bad even more. I assumed if I didn’t talk to her, she would feel like I didn’t like her or didn’t think she was worth talking to. I don’t ever want to make anyone feel that way.
Can this be for real? Have I been putting pressure on myself to socially perform in a way that’s not even required?