Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sharing vs. Oversharing


Our culture over-shares.
Take it from a blogger-- I'm not afraid to admit it. Too much of our thoughts and feelings are just "out there" for general consumption.



I don't want to talk right now about how technology and social networking like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs, etc. help us to over-share ad nauseam. That's a post in and of itself. Right now I want to talk about over-sharing in our face-to-face relationships with people (yes, those still do exist!).

Coming from a family of three girls, let it suffice to say that there was *always* a lot of sharing going on. Girls, as we know, like to talk. About everything. And three teenage girls under one roof are the perfect recipe for talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. And more talk.

No wonder that when I finally went to college, I felt so insecure whenever I would try to approach a roommate for some chat-time.  I would come in, gushing about something that with my sisters would elicit an hour-long conversation, and be met with little response. Somewhere into my gushing, my bubble would burst and I would feel utterly crushed and try to hurry up the story and leave quickly while I still had a little dignity left. I felt rejected when my roommates returned my invitations for share-fests with little more than a cold shoulder. It made me think, "Is it me? Do they not like me? Am I boring?"

Fast-forward ten+ years and I have grown more accustomed to the differences in the sharing barriers that exist between acquaintances, friends, close friends, sisters and now-- my spouse. Yet, I still struggle sometimes knowing what topics I can broach with whom and what degree of sharing is appropriate.  At this stage in life, conversations are just *different* from what I knew before.  As a married woman with children, my everyday world is much different from what it was back in the college days. I'm now concerned with dirty diapers, cognitive development, family nutrition, screen time, laundry and trying to get those precious few moments in my day to find time for a shower.  To top it off, I'm a natural family planning teacher, which means that fertility and allllllll sorts of weird things creep into my conversations that most people think are weird-- and I admit, I have to rein it in a lot because these are the things that sometimes come springing to my mind and I know that not everyone wants to hear it. Nor should everyone.

So, I have compiled a few basic rules to help me govern my speech:
1) Generally, acquaintances & friends want to know what you are up to.
2) Close friends and family want to know what you are up to AND what you think/feel about it.
3) Do not mention bodily functions with anyone less than a close friend...unless they bring it up first. Even then, cap it quickly.

There are still a few topics I struggle with, however, even among close friends and family. For example, is it appropriate to talk about baby plans with anyone other than your spouse? What about finances? Medical conditions? Work/family stressors? Spiritual experiences? Where do you draw the line between a healthy "letting off steam" session and a full-blown, unhealthy rant? What about *asking* those sorts of questions of other people??? Is that intrusive, or just showing that you truly care? Does it make a difference if your friend is male or female? (I at least have an answer for that one: for me, it's decidedly 'yes.')

I'm slowly learning that even these things can be handled in different ways with different people (I'm sooooooooo slow to learn all of the intricacies of interpersonal relationships!!!), but some days it feels like a real struggle and I constantly worry that I should retract things or have said things differently.  I even check myself sometimes by asking my husband: "Is it okay that I told that to X?" He usually nods and tells me not to worry about it. :) But he's a guy! As I recently said to a friend, "I'm the woman it's my job to worry about these things."

So fellow sharers, what do you think?
Are there topics that should ALWAYS be avoided?
Have you ever felt rejected or unsure about the 'level' of your sharing? How did you remedy or overcome that?
Do you think this is a "girl" issue? Or do guys have to deal with this as well? 

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