Getting comfortable with awkward conversations

I have often been fascinated by what topics of conversation are acceptable and what make people uncomfortable. In my world (which granted is a rare and subjective place) no topic should be off the table. Because as soon as you feel you can’t talk about something, the more weight it carries. The more effect it has on you and the more people wonder about it and dwell on it.

Sex is one of these topics. Some people are very comfortable talking about it, others redden as soon as you mention the S word (fiver for guessing which camp I fall into). But every single person on the face of the planet (well ok an extremely high percentage) is a product of sex. So why the embarrassment when we all do it?

Wouldn’t it be healthier for young people to have a more open and realistic understanding of sex before they do it? Wouldn’t it be beneficial for all of us to share experiences, expectations, anomalies, and mishaps to give us a more rounded and light hearted understanding of a universal experience? Couldn’t it help to better educate people about the realities of sex; not just the school sex-ed stuff like ‘you might get an STI and die,’ but how varied sexual relationship dynamics can be. In the Me Too world, wouldn’t that knowledge actually help to arm and protect people? Because we all know knowledge is power.

Speaking of dying…..death is another tricky conversation topic. With this one it’s not that we don’t talk about it rather how it is framed, particularly in western culture. We ‘protect’ children from it. We try to find the right words when someone experiences a loss, because we’re not sure what to say. We believe wholeheartedly it won’t happen to us or our loved ones. Yet if there’s one absolute inevitability in life, it’s death. It’s completely natural and will happen to every one of us whether young, old, sudden, or slow – it will come one way or another. So my thoughts are: is the way we talk about it helpful?

I find in the UK, we dress it in a bit too much morbidity for my liking. Death is nearly always depicted as tragic rather than natural. Does this help those who have lost or who are facing death or loss? It doesn’t for me. I think I personally would have benefitted from viewing it as a completely natural part of life minus the black and sombre, even if the loss was unexpected. Grief is painful enough without the added shroud of ‘unnaturalness’ we attach to it. I don’t say this to be insensitive. I was exposed to death at a young age and it has touched my life on and off ever since. But my perspective of it now is vastly different from when I was younger. Viewing it as natural and normal doesn’t take away the pain of loss, but it really does shape how I perceive that loss.

As a personality I am incredibly open. Both a blessing and a curse, it’s neither good nor bad, just is what it is. I lack the usual conversation filter – I guess I like my room sans elephants. Though I sometimes have a hard time adjusting to the fact that others are not comfortable with that level of openness. I often put my foot in it, cracking a joke that goes down like the Titanic, or asking a question in complete sincerity that proves deeply challenging for the recipient.

It is never my intent to make anyone uncomfortable though. I only ever mean to put people at ease; to make them feel they can talk to me about anything. I do have a couple of close friends who are used to my lack of filter and whom indulge my curiosity and need for honest sharing and connection. And thank god for that!

So if you know me and you fancy a chat, particularly about the uncouth or unacceptable, I’m your girl…. be it about sex, death, or anything in between. Or if I ever made you feel uncomfortable, I am genuinely sorry! Roll on the day when we are able to communicate with no judgements, but instead with open hearts that are happy to listen and learn about someone else’s experience of being human.




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