Last night I went to a cooking class. It was one part teaching, one part socializing, and all parts eating. I was stuffed. And it was good.
While we were eating this wonderful food that we had just learned how to make, those of us at the class (it was a small group of six students) began to converse and learn more about each other, discover common interest, and so on. Well, most of us did. It seemed that one person in our group attempted to join every conversation with a long detailed story that related to the speaker and no one else in the group. Here we are, trying to learn more about each other as a group at a level that we can all interact, and then these stories would take us all out of the picture and focus the spotlight on this one particular person. It was hilariously awkward.
I began to think about the situation though. (Admittedly, I was thinking about it in the middle of one of the stories, because I had that kind of time.) How many times have I attempted to join a conversation in which I had no part by turning the focus on me? How often have I noticed that the story I’m trying to contribute is less about common ground and more about where I stand? We all want to relate to people, especially the people with whom we’re interacting. We all want to seem favorable and “part of the group.” And sometimes we try to do that by saying, “Here’s how I do that too!” Only what we’re doing, or the story we’re telling, isn’t really a “too” moment at all. It’s just not the same. And while we try to pretend that it is, everyone who’s had the experience of the “too” knows it doesn’t qualify.
So what do we do? If we’re smart, we quit trying. We stop attempting to attach ourselves to a tangent and we take the time to be still and really discover the connections in the group. Everyone’s looking for a place to fit. When we take the time to see how others fit, to recognize how they are relating, that can open the door for them to actually invite us into the relationship as well. Then, instead of trying to prove that we’re a part, we can simply enjoy being a part. That’s the story I want to tell.