Is Small Talk All About Being Busy?

Is Small Talk All About Being Busy?

One of the things I’ve noticed while being sick most of this year is how little people are interested in me. And yes, that sounds like a strange and self absorbed thing to say. But it’s more about how small talk seems to focus itself.


Is Small Talk All About Being Busy?


Is Small Talk All About Being Busy?


My weekends this year have involved resting so that I feel well enough to go to work. To regather strength. To try and stop my health from getting worse. 


All other types of possible weekend activities have gone. They are far gone. I haven’t been to markets I like in ages. I missed going to buy my fresh Kingaroy nuts in a giant bag for $6 from a vendor at a little market in a suburban showground. 


None of these things have been important to me this year. I’ve missed them, but they were not important enough for me to spend energy on them. 


What that means is that when people ask how my weekend was, or what I’ve been up to lately, my answer is literally nothing and/or bed. I say I’ve been resting. Most of the people who ask me this know I’ve been battling illnesses all year. It stops conversations.


I get it, there’s not much to reply to when you haven’t done much. You can’t ask how that market was or say “wasn’t that festival great?” or other things to prolong a conversation.


But why does small talk have to be about all the doing? Why can’t we acknowledge that downtime is a necessary part of a balanced life? Sure, I wish I could do stuff. Yes, my year has been kinda boring.


But here’s the thing: it’s OK to do nothing.


Even if you’re not sick. It’s not “Oh I just sat around at home”. It’s “I enjoyed my house today”. Why do we work for commodities such as houses we like and decorated how we liked if we aren’t “allowed” to enjoy them? 


I’ll fully admit here that I’m an introvert. I’m not shy, nor am I afraid of speaking to crowds, or other “classic” introvert things that may spring to mind. I am an introvert insofar as I need time away from people. I am people’d out by the end of a working day or week. I need quiet downtime. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like noise. I don’t even like bright lighting (as you may see on Instagram when my food is kinda dark, it’s cos I use candles or sit in the dark because I like it). I don’t know if “busy” is a dirtier word to introverts than extroverts. (I also don’t really subscribe to defining people, but I do find these definitions somewhat useful when describing how I recharge.)


I guess I wish we could move a little past the checklist style weekend activities and more onto appreciating that we all like to do/not-do varying things. Maybe I wish conversations were more about “Did you enjoy your weekend?” rather than “What did you do?”. I’m not sure I have the answer here, but I feel like a change in the small talk, away from the busy, would be nice.


How do you feel about small talk? Do you get the sense it’s all about being busy?

20 Replies to “Is Small Talk All About Being Busy?”

  1. I like the idea of asking ‘did you enjoy your weeken?’ as opposed to asking ‘what did you do on the weekend?’ I guess it’s a little like asking people ‘what do you do for a living?’ as if you’re job is the most important thing about you…

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Yes, it’s quite the same. The doing seems to be the focus, and I’m not convinced it should be. Doing is just part of who we are.

  2. I love doing nothing much sometimes! Sometimes we need a nap or to lie about and read or crochet or knit or watch a movie. We don’t always have to be ‘doing’. Rest is an important part of balance as far as I’m concerned. I hope you’re feeling better now?! #TeamLovinLife

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Rest is important, and quite overlooked! I haven’t had the greatest week (quite bad in some parts, frankly) but it literally is all uphill from here, so that’s good! I’m already improving from earlier in the week.

  3. I 100% agree with your observations here. Also, there is nothing like somebody saying: so what have you been up to? to make my mind instantly go blank!!!

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Haha the panic reflex! It makes me think “well, I put on pants this morning, so that’s something!” 🙂

  4. I think it’s kinda socially acceptable to talk about what people have binged on Netflix and the like but I often think I don’t have those ‘what you did on the weekend’ conversations with friends as we’ve often seen them on social media so already know. Plus people I’m friendly with are at different points of their lives and have other commitments (kids, families etc).

    I think the busy-ness one-upmanship is a bit of a trend though. It’s hardly socially acceptable to say you were bored or not busy. And then there’s the fact that I suspect (other than our loved ones or those really invested in our lives), people really DON’T want to know how we are unless we’re able to entertain them in some way. I know I will rarely talk about sulking all weekend, though will probably joke about ‘throwing myself down on my bed’ or something… #lovinlifeteam

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      Yes that’s true, Netflix has somewhat helped in that area (though it does seem to be all about political dramas and ugh, real life politics is scary enough for me!).
      I think that you’re right though, people feel like they have to ask what you did/how you are and don’t want to know the real answer – which is basically my problem with small talk – it’s boring and often fake.

  5. I tend to play up the humor of not actually having done much. It does tend to take the conversation into the dreaded ‘things only other parents would be amused at’ territory though. I work with people at all different stages of their lives but we muddle through and find some kind of social chit chat middle ground.

    SSG xxx

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      The different stages of life thing definitely comes into play at work with these conversations.

  6. I need downtime from busy too, especially people busy. Trouble is I don’t have enough of it. My hubby on the other hand is always wanting to be doing or having company or going to see someone, drives me batty. I should have been a hermit!

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      It must be hard being opposites!

  7. I think sometimes we play busy poker – ‘I’ll take your study schedule and raise it with three kids and a dance concert.’ That type of thing. It’s the downtime that puts a fullstop under the rest. These days I work from home, but still need 15 minutes quiet time between finishing work & rejoining my family. As for weekends where there’s nothing on and you can lounge around & watch whatever – or nothing -well, that’s bliss. #TeamLovinLife

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      All I’ve done today is muddle around at home. It has been nice! Probably did more than I needed to though 🙂

  8. I’m with you. I’m an introvert too. I can do those other things with crowds and parties and stuff for a couple of hours, but then I need to get out and go home and breathe.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      That breathing time is so important.

  9. Having a quiet weekend to recharge the batteries is something that i’ve come to accept as something that I need regularly and plan for. I can’t be bothered with the boasting that goes with asking about peoples weekends. I’ve found that asking if someone had an enjoyable weekend is the way to go.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I’m a bit of a contradiction in this – I need the downtime but I get really restless if I don’t leave the house.

  10. I hear you about being introvert Ness. I’m not shy either, but I do need time away from other people on a regular basis, so that I can recharge my batteries 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      It’s one of the many reasons I don’t think full time work is for me. Now I just need to find that job that is part time but pays just as much… 🙂

Leave a Reply