“What” is a common word. We use it everyday, in multiple situations. So, it isn’t necessarily a word that would stand out in a conversation.
My boyfriend Nathan and I have probably said it a million times to one another by now. It often comes into play when we’re sitting and talking with one another and a moment of silence comes along. That pause can make me uncomfortable because I’m worried it will turn into an awkward silence. So I try to avoid it as much as possible.
But I’ve learned that the conversation suddenly stopping isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other even better. Let me explain.
My boyfriend and I were just sitting there chatting about the day to day things in our life. And then there was that pause. I got the feeling that he had something more to say, that something was bubbling below the surface. He just looked at me and—I guess we’ll just call it intuition—I just felt the word slip out.
“What?” I said gently. He told me he just had a lot on his mind.
It wasn’t long after that, that silence again fell after conversation. He looked at me and asked “What?” My response was the same, just a lot on my mind. Too much to put into words. I just didn’t know how.
After a while, I began to realize that there was more meaning behind the word “what” for us.
“What?” is more than a question. It’s an invitation. An invitation to share, whether it is something small or something huge. “What” is an opportunity. “What” includes all that has happened and that could be.
I don’t always have a ground-breaking answer to the question and neither does he. Sometimes the response is “just thinking about a bunch of things.” Sometimes it’s “nothing in particular.” It can even be relationship, job, or hobby related. Whatever the answer may be, I always feel more connected to him afterward.
“What” isn’t just another word to me now. I still use it as much as I did before. But it rings a little clearer. Those silent moments that end with the word now make me smile.
I appreciate that he can’t always put things into words because neither can I! I’m no longer afraid of silence. And you shouldn’t be either. Get comfortable with it. There’s so much to be found there in those pauses in the conversation.