I just realised what makes being at university and school so much better than working mostly fulltime - its the variety to experiences we can talk about.
You see when your at work most of your life, you really have very little life outside of work. Sure you might do stuff in the evenings, or on the weekends. But by 11am on monday morning you’ve told your immediate colleagues what happened on the weekend, with each evening requiring a 5 minute recap the following morning.
When you’re at uni you have so much more free time to do a wider variety of stuff, you therefore have a much greater source of things from which to derive topics of conversation. The movie you watched, the people you met, the work you havent done yet.
I guess thats why people who work spend so much time talking about television, current affairs, politics and celebs. They having nothing of themselves to discuss, because it would just be stuff like “So, what you been upto recently?”, “Oh, I just debugged the mainframe it now works 50% better, how about you”, “Oh, I spent the morning examining our accounts, turns out I can save the company a few million dollars this year in tax”. How boring1. So instead they talk about the lives of other people, because their lives are so much more interesting.
Now I really don’t want to end up spending all my time either talking about work or what other people have done, so I have developed some strategies against this problem. The first strategy towards countering this dangerous trend is when talking about what you did on the weekend or last night go into minute detail. Make sure you detail every single emotion, every single word, and every single action that was felt, said or done. By doing this you pretty much ensure that you won’t get through everything - either because you have to much to say, or people will get bored and stop listening. Secondly remember that you have 20 years of previous prework experiences to use as conversation topics. Make full usage of this wealth of material. The nostalgia will make you feel good too. Thirdly, if things are falling apart, start using fiction. Part of the reason we tell people what we did on the weekend is to basically make ourselves look good. If the story you’re being told is to good to be true then it probably isn’t. But it was interesting, wasn’t it? People listened. Hey, even you did. A good fiction story is miles better than resorting to discussing someone elses life that is better than yours. Try starting some urban legends.
Finally, remember that what we are trying to do is shift our watercooler conversations away from the preformated topics that are given to us nightly on the television and in the newspaper back onto our own lives. So it needs to be personal. The flashy lights and large broadsheets tend to give us a lot to hide behind. If your life isn’t interesting enough to talk about then maybe you need to stop working overtime.
1 - Actually some of this stuff is kinda interesting, but you’d have to be some sort of freak to be able to listen to it all the time. That or a nerd. I enjoy discussing the finer points of programming every now and then, well frequently, but I still enjoy talking about other, non-vocational topics of conversation.