Speaking at the same level

What does a connection mean? To be connected? To find that spark?

Isn’t different for everyone? Some seek intelligence. Others seek passion. Even others seek curiosity. I seek self-awareness.

Living in a bustling city, I meet new people every day. Through work, networking events, social events, festivals. There’s always something going on. Yet as I get older, I realize that I cannot connect with everyone. As much as my younger self sought to be accepted by everyone, now I don’t want to connect with everyone.

Over the years, I acquired the ability to small talk. I may start with a standard question: “which neighborhood do you live in?” then progress to “what made you decide to move to San Francisco?” because almost nobody grew up in this city. (For those special few, I reserve the question ‘how has the city changed?’) And yet, I can tell whether the person is pushing me to talk about myself or happy to talk about themselves. For the former, it’s exhausting although my ego loves being rubbed.

I want to eventually fall into topics of “why do we happen to behave this way?” and “what wakes us up in the morning?” I want to know those things, but it’s nearly impossible to ask. I do resort to the question “what keeps you up at night?” in my research interviews and yet I sometimes don’t get the answer I seek.

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