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My Worst Personality Trait

Okay, so it might not be my worst personality trait, but since it’s a recent flaw I’ve discovered, I’m going to be a little dramatic with the title.

Not long ago (maybe a week or so), I was disrupting someone’s lunch break to have a conversation. She is one of the first genuine acquaintances I made since moving to North Carolina, and considering I already knew (without telling anyone) it was my last day, I wanted to chat with her without being under the watchful eye of the six humans who share a single brain cell (iykyk). My acquaintance is heading off to start her first year of college in a couple of weeks, and when it came up in conversation, I immediately started giving her advice based on my college dorm experiences.

Halfway through telling her one learning experience, I realized I was giving her unnecessary, unsolicited advice. When I expressed this sentiment aloud, her eyes went wide and she said “Ya think?” before continuing to eat her mixed, leftover Chipotle bowl.

*Side note: When you get a bowl from Chipotle, do you mix it or eat it as is? This was a hot debate during our shift.

After she confirmed what my mind told me, I got really sad. It was like one of those moments in a movie when a character’s entire life is shown in five seconds with a hyper-sped up timeline. Every conversation I’ve had with a friend, especially any new ones I’ve attempted to get to know, I’ve given unsolicited advice. Then I got more sad because this realization led to another one:

I don’t know how to have conversations.

Like, how do you respond to what someone is saying without seeming uninterested and using monosyllabic words? How do you discuss a person’s issue, big or small, without saying “Maybe you could…” From my understanding, it’s a good idea to put yourself in that person’s shoes, but what do you do once you’re there?

Since I don’t know how to have conversations, especially as an adult, I can only contribute to a discussion by sharing my life experiences, which turns into a lengthy advice session most people never ask for. Sometimes, a conversation can simply consist of one person talking, and the other person showing genuine signs of listening—not hopping at any opportunity to try to fix something [that’s not even broken]. There are other times where people think you’re not listening when you’re not responding simply because you’re trying to listen and process (hope that made sense).

With my brain going down this spiral, I founding myself conjoining it with the continuous thought that I’m not a good friend—a thought that seems to grow the longer I spend time alone in North Carolina. This is something I talk about all the time. If not on here, I know there’s a podcast episode about it—where I literally express being jealous of my friends. Part of that jealousy stems from them being able to have discussions and show up and show out in the best ways possible, which I struggle with.

I used to be so good at listening, and somewhere along the way, maybe in my desperate desire to make friends (because a parent of mine thinks that will cure my depression), I stopped listening. Or maybe I stopped listening and began obnoxiously inserting myself in an effort to be told “Thank you Jamilah, I appreciate your help,” to be told I am a good friend, to be reassured people don’t just talk to me because my presence is convenient. Since making the switch across states, I started rambling and trying to insert myself and my life into the situations of people I am still trying to get to know—I haven’t even been here a year!

What’s crazy is I did an entire podcast episode about my red flags, and I couldn’t tell you if giving out unsolicited advice is one of the red flags I listed. If not, I’m telling you now.

Not remembering my ramblings (especially the ones on the podcast) should be another red flag.

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