What if I have nothing interesting to say?

Recently my friend Eric proposed an idea to his circle of friends in the interest of deepening our knowledge of each other beyond our shared history and current situations of jobs and family. Would we be interested to gather one evening and to trade 10-minute talks about a topic we each find deeply interesting, TED-talk style?

Inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ memoir, Year of Yes, I immediately said “Yes”, even though I felt uncomfortable with the idea. Now that some weeks have passed, though, dread creeps upon me. Because even more frightening than the idea of public speaking is the thought, What if I have nothing interesting to say?

When I strip away the small talk of weather and real estate, and the funny/aggravating/worrying shenanigans of my kids, what do I have to say for myself? We already avoid talking too specifically about our jobs and careers; the amount of information and context to describe what many of us actually do has been too difficult to convey in years of late when babies and toddlers have interrupted many a conversation. I doubt anyone really wants me to get into the ins and outs of my current work. So, what do I find fascinating and funny and thought-provoking in my solitude, to bring forward to others to examine and judge in the cold glare of the theatre light? That this type of conversation is rare and uncommon in this group makes it feel all so risky to lay bare my deep interests.

Worse of all would be to commit the sin of being boring, ponderous, and self-important. Choosing the right topic to speak about is of the utmost importance. Ugh, talk about putting pressure on myself! As I see it, I have a few options to choose from:

  • “Working to get rid of bosses at my work: the aftermath of reading Reinventing Organizations”—My current company GrantBook is like no other that I’ve worked for in the past. Every day I feel authentic and whole, and not like I’m working towards someone else’s definition of success. This book gives me the vocabulary to help explain how and why.
  • “Looking for my lost joy: Working with a Joy Coach”—After I left Accenture, I had no plans and no direction beyond “not back there”. Working with Janice, my coach, helped me clarify what I needed going forward.
  • “The horror, the horror! My first attempts to use the DivaCup”—Because if I’m going to push myself to be uncomfortable, why not go all the way and talk about my period to a roomful of people? A talk about my desire to move to a more environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene product and the hilarity that ensued. I will probably need to have several alcoholic drinks in me to actually go through with this talk.
  • “Think of the Children! The implications of unbridled smartphone use”—The book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle absolutely blew my mind. The implications are more vast than I imagined, way more than merely the time spent (lost) using devices. This is especially so for children who are still forming their sense of selves. From confidence, to loneliness, to losing empathy and the ability to have civil discourse, we need to be aware and make conscious choices about our smartphone use. Maybe I can convince others to also read this book.
  • “Anatomy of a budding romance: From meet-meh to soulmate”—This year is my 10th wedding anniversary with my beloved husband. Perhaps a dissection of the first days of our courtship is a better present than tin and aluminum?

Hopefully one of these will be interesting for my friends. At the very least, I should prepare myself by re-watching this highly instructional video from CBC’s This is That!