The scene: I find myself somewhat unexpectedly sitting next to a girl a few years younger than myself, i.e. a teenage female. Now, I consider myself fairly outgoing, with a good amount of social confidence, and this situation is no exception, so I politely introduce myself and ask a standard question, perhaps something about the event we’re at. She responds with her name and then continues to stare at her cell phone, punching buttons incessantly. I try a few more relevant questions, the ones which “etiquette dictates,” and it’s obvious that conversation is not forthcoming.
So then I find myself at an impasse. I honestly don’t know where to go. In this instance, let’s assume I want to talk, first of all, and would certainly like to know this girl better. But we seem worlds apart. This is a “typical” high schooler, consumed with her friends, clothes, boys, texting, shopping, etc. She struggles with insecurity, maybe even depression.
And on the other hand, there’s me. I never went to public school, I am deeply religious, and I enjoy the occasional philosophical debate. I’m genuinely happy most of the time, and I have a very close family.
Not much to work with. But surely two girls so close in age have some similarities.
I consider asking about school – grade, college plans, etc… but isn’t that what everyone asks? Family/sibling questions also seem ubiqitous. I doubt a political subject would be successful, although it’s possible. I don’t seem to be able to break the barrier, the “ice” between us.
It’s an annoying problem, because I don’t encounter this issue with any other age/social group. I mean, I can normally have a decent conversation with a rock. I get frustrated at myself – after all, I was a teenage girl just a couple of years ago. Was my life really that different? Why isn’t there more common ground? Why can’t I connect to this girl and others like her?
The answer eludes me. Is it because of my religion? I love G-d, therefore I have a hard time talking to more ‘worldly’ people? Surely that can’t be true. Is it because I just don’t understand this girl and how she thinks? Perhaps quite simply the dichotomy between us is truly too great. Is it a hopeless cause? I don’t know. Is there anything I can or should do differently? Something to think about…