Fredward was anxious. He was en route to his ten year High School reunion. The Fred-ster was excited, but also nervous about impressing his peers. Word on the street was that two girls from his Homeroom had invented a stronger adhesive for Post-It notes and were the stars of the class.

Fredward, on the other hand, had an ok job in sales – it paid the bills, but wasn’t anything to write home about. He knew it made sense for him right now, but was starting to worry about how he’d stack up against his classmates.

Before he knew it, he was in the buffet line chatting with a baseball teammate. Up came the dreaded question- “So Fred, what are you up to these days?” Our guy panicked. He could have offered up a succinct answer like, “I’m a salesman for a medical supply co., hoping to branch out soon” and then politely excused himself to refill his wine glass with more liquid courage. But he didn’t.

He went off about the false notions of “dream jobs”, how a good salesman was undervalued in today’s economy, and how he was working toward starting his own company. By the time he finished talking he wasn’t even sure what he’d said, and his third baseman bud was clearly looking for a way out.

After a similar nightmare-ish conversation with his 10th grade crush, Fredward went outside and sat in his rental car. He was tempted to leave but after playing his favorite psych-up song a couple times, decided to brave the room again. He went back to the buffet, and with a fierce determination to stop word-vomiting on everyone, started a conversation with the notorious “big man on campus.”

Unfortunately, there was no miraculous turn of events where Fredward was suddenly able to charm the pants off everyone. But with every conversation, he rambled less and became more comfortable talking about himself. He even managed to get the phone number of one of the Post-It girls!

This was truly a learning experience for our friend Fredward. His lesson was twofold: never show up to a small-talk situation completely unprepared to talk about yourself, and more importantly, that playing the comparison game with your peers is a dangerous road filled with ramblings and insecurities. Good luck at your 20th Fredward!

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