After I quit my job last year, I found that conversations with new people were suddenly ten times harder than they were when I had a job. I have to admit that this was a side effect that I wasn’t prepared for. The change in finances and how I spent my time were things I was prepared to face. In fact, those were things I had talked about with my husband before making the final decision. How to make small talk with a stranger – I wasn’t prepared for that one.
I bet that at this point you’re wondering why small talk changed so much after I quit my job. Let’s go through a typical “introduction” conversation and you’ll quickly see why small talk became such a problem for me.
Introduction conversations typically go something like this – introduce your name, talk about where you’re from, and then the inevitable question of “What do you do?” always seems to come up. When I was working, it was an easy answer – “I’m a teacher” – that typically led to further conversation about my job and what I loved about it.
It was a simple answer and I never really thought about the significance of it. Then, I quit my job and the question came up. I’m pretty sure I just stared into space hoping that an answer would appear in front of me. I still identified as a teacher but wasn’t working. I was a blogger but at the time, I wasn’t making any money from it. How was I supposed to answer the question of “What do you do?” And that’s when it hit me – we’ve all been answering this question wrong for so many years because it’s how we’ve been conditioned.