The other night I found myself in a cluster of new friends at a concert. The second band was sound-checking so we huddled together to talk about the previous band, what we thought about them, if we liked them and why, how they fit into the trend of that genre of music these days, where music was headed in general, and how everyone was starting to sound like The Black Keys. And when I say “we” talked about this, I mean that they talked about this, I said very little, and mostly listened and smiled. Because I don’t really know how to talk intelligently about the type of music we were seeing. I don’t even know what it’s called – Indie? Americana? Words I don’t know the definitions to.
At first, I felt ashamed at my lack of contribution to the conversation. “Everyone is starting to sound like The Black Keys? What does that even mean?” I thought to myself. I like be to useful in chats like this and add interesting facts that impress people, but on this topic, I really had nothing to say, and I grew fearful these new friends would not like me anymore. That they would move on to other clusters of people who did things like listen to vinyl records and would never listen to Taylor Swift turned up loud with the windows rolled down.
In my moments of insecurity, I began to remember a friend I really respect. The reason I respect her is because she never pretends to know things she doesn’t know. She asks the questions everyone else is too afraid to ask but we’re all deep down wishing someone would tell us the answers to. So I decided to channel this friend’s confidence in my conversation at the concert and finally asked what the guy meant when he said music is all starting to sound like The Black Keys. The answer turned out to be interesting (something about their producer who produces a bunch of other random artists), and I felt like I learned something I wouldn’t have leanred if I had continued to stare at the few of them and nod as if I agreed and understood all of their musical jargon.
The best part was, these new friends did not seem to like me less after I confessed my ignorance. They didn’t point their fingers at me and laugh; they simply answered my questions in a kind way, happy to have some knowledge to offer me. Their kindness invited me to be myself for the remainder of the night. And nights are always more fun when you’re being yourself instead of pretending or trying to be someone else.
It’s so easy to like people who are genuine and comfortable being themselves, and it’s so easy to forget that we are allowed to act this way too. I would much rather be friends with someone who is honest than friends with someone who’s trying to impress me. We can’t all know everything about everything, and that’s ok.