I recognize that I have an imposing stature. I am 5’11” (1.80 m) tall and was, up until a year ago, fairly overweight. Outside my family, I grew up surrounded by people who were smaller than me. Between my size and my love of school, I became a social outcast at a very young age. I had friends, but I never really felt accepted. I didn’t find a group of people who I connected with until my junior year of high school and I am still very close with them to this day. Unfortunately, my social awkwardness has never gone away.

I don’t mean to, but I intimidate people. I cannot hide my size, I maintain an athletic physique, and I don’t hide my intelligence. Growing up, it wasn’t cool to be smart, especially for girls. I tried to hide my intelligence for a short while but quickly realized I would never be “cool”, so I moved on and did my own thing. I, like most people growing up, tried to change things about myself to be more likable. It wasn’t until the past couple years that I truly embraced my awkwardness, focusing my energy on becoming person I wanted to be, rather than who everyone else wanted me to be.

I am not good at small talk. I find it to be an inefficient form of communication. However, I recognize that it is necessary for general social interactions, so I deal with it for as short a time as possible. I love talking to people, I just prefer to have meaningful conversations because I find those foster the interpersonal connections that lead to genuine, lasting friendships.

As a result, I have very little hesitation about bringing up topics that have made other people uncomfortable. These topics commonly include politics, religion, philosophy, morals, and personal information. I share my perspective for every topic I bring up, so it is never a one-sided conversation, nor do I every want it to feel like I’m interrogating the person I’m speaking with.

Recently, the conversation topics that make people visibly clench are feminism, women’s rights, and sexual assault. Not that those topics were regularly discussed before, but their presence in the news has people extremely on edge. That hasn’t stopped me. I want to know what people think. I want to know who in my life is paying attention to it and who is choosing to stay out of it. For the latter, I want know why those people don’t want to be informed or have an opinion.

I recognize that there’s a lot to keep up with, but I think it’s incredibly important to stay informed and have an opinion that can be defended.

No matter how difficult the conversation, I want people to know that they can talk to me about anything. I do my best to express my opinion without judgement or accusation, but my perspective is relative to my own experiences. More importantly, I respect that others have had different experiences from me.

The more people are willing to have uncomfortable conversations, the more normalized those topics become. Maybe if these topics were normalized, people wouldn’t be afraid to express their opinions, tell their truths, or share their stories.

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Posted by Megan Livingston

Ms. Livingston is a PhD student studying Biochemistry & Cell Biology at UT MD Anderson/UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

One Comment

  1. Great post! These conversations are indeed very important 🙂

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