I can’t define what a meaningful conversation looks like for you. I don’t know what issues are close to your heart or what you’re personally facing. But I do believe that you know what it feels like to have a meaningful conversation with someone.

For me, it feels uncomfortable. It ventures into territory that involves revealing parts of myself that I usually keep well-wrapped and hidden from sight. It pushes me to the limits of how open I’m willing to be. It tests how much I trust the people I’m speaking with.

Every time we have the courage to articulate something, we take the risk of being misunderstood. We are the only ones privy to the thought process in our minds that formed those words.

We are the only experts on all the experiences that lead to those thoughts. But there’s value in communicating with others and not keeping everything bottled up inside. It can be cathartic to share yourself with others.

It can be cathartic to share yourself with others.

Sometimes, misunderstandings that occur can be easily cleared up and don’t take a toll on us. But in meaningful conversations, the stakes are higher than that. No one wants to be misunderstood when they are being vulnerable.

This increased anxiety about how you’ll be perceived shouldn’t scare you away though. In my experience, actively seeking out and engaging in meaningful conversations is an act of healing.

Especially if you’re still physically isolated from friends, or family it is imperative to have that relief of being honest with people we trust. It can be easier to skirt around what really matters and talk about things that we don’t have much of an emotional investment in, such as homework.

But it’s more rewarding to dig at what makes you vulnerable and explore with the comfort of loved ones what you really want to talk about.

But it’s more rewarding to dig at what makes you vulnerable and explore with the comfort of loved ones what you really want to talk about.

I personally have found this to be an experience that demands not just honesty with others but honesty with myself too. Often, I’ve underestimated the ability of others to empathize with me. By taking the dive into opening up meaningful conversation, the pessimistic side of me cautions that I’m opening myself up to dreaded judgement.

The other side of that coin is that I’m opening myself up to support and solidarity. It’s funny how eager I am to catastrophize sometimes. Beyond thinking that no one will understand me, I tend to think that no one is willing to understand me.  This is why I always need to remind myself that I have amazingly caring friends in my life who I should trust.

I don’t think that meaningful conversation should be considered as mutually exclusive from ways of communication regarded as superficial.

Sometimes, tagging a friend in a meme that particularly resonates with you can spark wonderful discussion.

Likewise, sharing a scene from a TV show and why it evoked an emotional response can also be the basis of insightful conversation.

Some apps like LongWalks are even providing digital platforms explicitly built to help you engage in meaningful conversations.

It’s understandable that pursuing these conversations can feel more awkward online. Nevertheless, especially in this time of isolation, they are worth having.

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  • Tusshara Nalakumar Srilatha

    Tusshara Nalakumar Srilatha is pursuing a BA in Literature and Creative Writing and Psychology at New York University Abu Dhabi. Tusshara writes poetry and short stories, runs workshops for young girls to promote female empowerment through education, and facilitates dialogue about community at her university. Tusshara's creative work, written primarily in English with the incorporation of Tamil, often explores her evolving experience of identity. She is currently based in Manila, Philippines.