I’m an oversharer, and no, I don’t mean I overshare like everybody else on the internet. I mean I overshare in my everyday life. I used to catch myself after an interaction and think, “wow, they didn’t need or want to know that about me.” Sometimes I would get angry with myself for talking too long about an irrelevant story, or I was telling an important story that was littered with unimportant details. It used to kill me to reflect on conversations I had, and some of my conversations still do.
I tried to limit how much I shared and in order to do that, had to limit how much and how often I spoke. I realize now that being afraid of my tendency to overshare only silences me. I don’t want to censor myself because I’m afraid of saying something silly or irrelevant. I don’t want to forgo making a connection with another human because I’m afraid of embarrassing myself or making them uncomfortable (which I would hope they would tell me if it were truly an issue, because I don’t want to infringe on someone else’s comfort if I can help it).
How I overshare
Sometimes I spend five minutes or longer on a story that only needed one minute and bored everyone around me or made someone uncomfortable. I was never really worried about boring someone, I was worried about making them uncomfortable with the details of my stories. On the internet, if you tell an awkward story with too many details, nobody bats an eye. In face to face situations, it can be incredibly uncomfortable when someone keeps going on and on about irrelevant details, or simply a bunch of details. There’s no back arrow in personal interactions.
I also have a tendency to connect a situation to something that in my mind is relevant, but I have to make a case for its relevance and often I think I waste a lot of people’s time. I have been told many times to “save the story for later” in my adult life and it never fails to make me feel childish or silly. Its a bad feeling knowing that you didn’t read the situation correctly. It’s an even worse feeling when you did read the situation correctly and the other person wasn’t interested.
The final thing I do is I will tell a story that I feel comfortable sharing at an appropriate time to someone I trust or feel I know well but then notice after that I made them uncomfortable. Often this is when I talk about my mental health, my breast reduction, my fears, hopes, or any other topic that I might bring up to feel a connection with someone else and encourage them to reciprocate with something about themselves. This is the worst feeling when you realize that the person you were opening up to might not have been ready or interested in having that level of a relationship with you. It sucks because you question the relationship and how you assessed it.
Why I believe oversharing is a good thing
I tried really hard to cull my urge to share stories. I have practiced a sort of time and place resistance to my story telling, but that doesn’t always prevent the awkwardness of a badly timed personal story or misjudging how much someone wants to know you or how ready someone is to open up to you.
In the end, I pride myself on my honesty and the authenticity of my stories. That’s what this blog is all about. While my blogging persona and my real world persona are the same person, I have realized the time and place rules of the internet are slightly different in face to face interactions. Regardless, being an oversharer is far from the worst thing I could be.
I use stories to connect with people. I crave deeper connections with others and what I have learned about awkward encounters is that I don’t really want to be friends with or connect with someone who makes me feel awkward for sharing or judges me for the personal stories I tell. Anyone who makes me feel childish for wanting to know more about them and sharing stories about myself, isn’t someone I want to have a connection with. In fact, I generally don’t want anything to do with someone who devalues the experiences and excitement of other people because they can’t be bothered to reciprocate or they feel they can’t share about themselves. I crave connections with people who are emotionally intelligent. Sometimes someone’s unwillingness to participate in real, vulnerable conversations with friends and loved ones isn’t a sign of your social ineptitude, but theirs.
I tell a lot more than most people, but I also am not sharing absolutely everything about my life. If someone asks me how my day is, I’m going to tell them (unless my day has truly been fine or okay). I don’t ask people how they are unless I want to know. So don’t ask me if you don’t want to know. If I am going to tell a story (and not just a general update), I’m going to tell you the details because to me, the details are important. The best conversations I have had with the most important people in my life began with an awkward first story. Heck, my best friend Kayla and I bonded over mutual fears, and we had barely known each other when we had that conversation. We have had many more conversations like that because we are both emotionally intelligent and honest enough to be real with each other.
One night while I was in Paris, I found myself in a hotel room full of girls I barely knew. I don’t know who started it, but someone shared something vulnerable and personal. Soon, we were all sharing stories like we had known each other for years; deeply personal stories that we rarely shared with anyone. Stories of love, death, fear and excitement. Not only did getting to know each other like this change the trip dramatically, but I still feel a deep connection to those women. While we don’t see each other often, I feel a love and respect for them that I don’t feel for many of the people I see every day.
Everyone is an individual and our personalities are not exceptions. I have met other people like me and I have some of the deepest connections with them. I share things that others might relate or connect to, because while I like to share things about myself, I also like to learn and know things about the people in my life. The best way to do that is to take the first step and get vulnerable so that someone else is comfortable enough to get vulnerable too. I’m not looking for superficial relationships. I want something deeper and you don’t get deeper until you’ve had an awkward first story.
My tendency to overshare does not adversely affect my life (aside from tiny moments of embarrassment, that are laughable at worst). Even though I am open and honest, I am not naive. I’m not out telling people where I live, what my work schedule is, when I’m not going to be home, handing out my phone number, or announcing what I ate for breakfast. I’m also not opening up to just anyone.
There is a fine line between being an oversharer, and being unsafe about what you reveal about yourself.
I am more than willing and excited to share an overabundance of experiences and details to make connections with the people I value in my life, but not the point where I am putting myself at risk of social isolation or danger. I am completely okay with being an oversharer because I still have safe boundaries.
Especially on the internet am I okay with being an oversharer. In the age of google, I find that I have questions that only another person can answer, but the people in my life might not know. Finding people from all over the world with similar questions and having the chance to read the experiences and answers from so many different people is empowering. Our ability to contribute to the lives of people we don’t know simply by telling a story, sharing an experience, or even a simple photo is truly tremendous.
So tell people weird stories about yourself, start vulnerable conversations, learn things about the people in your life, build deeper connections. That is what oversharing is to me, and in the end, I simply consider it sharing. I can honestly say I have had magical connections with people who were strangers that morning, and some honest and vulnerable storytelling changed that. Don’t be afraid to open up. The people who hurt you for it are not people who deserve you or your honesty.