Distinguishing Real Talk From Small Talk.

Distinguishing Real Talk From Small Talk.

Photo by Elliott Pak (@elliottpak)

Written by Elliott Pak

Enough Labels.

Hello hello hello. Another thing I’ve been thinking about recently, again inspired by something I heard on a podcast a while ago, can’t remember who or what. It’s pretty simple I think. Guys, I think it even works pretty fucking well as a pick-up line too.

The topic is about….when you meet someone new. Usually you start by saying your name and stuff. Correct?

Usually next is…


“What do you do for a living?”


We all do it. We all have our answer queued up too, trying to make our jobs sound as cool as possible, just ready for every person that walks into that bar, cause for some reason they have to know what it is you do to make money. I personally hated it this past year, not because I didn’t like my jobs (I actually really enjoyed them), but because I had two jobs, and they were really a fucking mouthful to explain. I was getting to the point where I was asking people if they actually seriously cared about what I did for a living – if they did of course I would tell them. But if they were just making small talk I told them what I did wasn’t interesting at all and I’d save us both some valuable minutes we’d never get back.

That’s not the point. That’s me being lazy and annoyed because I’m a lazy and easily annoyed person.

My point is…how many of us really actually like to be defined by our job? Like…if you had a nametag, and we got to find out one thing about you, and basically judge you on that one thing – would it really be an obligatory chore that you do every day to put food on the table for yourself and your loved ones? would you say that’s just straight up who you are?

*Now I realize there is the small percentage of humans who absolutely fucking kill it, and get to do what they love every single day, waking up with a smile on their face, yada. And I straight up applaud you guys…you made it. But I’m talking about the rest of us, who are still just figuring our way through life….who can’t leave our jobs because we need that paycheck, or that stability, or don’t even know what we want to do with our lives?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you don’t want to be labeled by your job.

Cause for me at least, I personally think I am way more of a person, way more personality, way more ANYTHING than any job I have ever had has ever defined me. So I often question why that is always the first thing we ask people we’ve just met.

Real Conversations with Real People

So I’m just gonna say what your new, semi-aggressive-pick-up-intro line should be, instead of dumb-ass “hey, who writes your paychecks?”

“What are you passionate about?”

Sounds simple enough. But go to someone in a bar, and just straight up ask them that. It’s weird, it’s flustering, it’s maybe too personal. Maybe they know what they’re passionate about. Maybe they don’t. But I guarantee you it’ll lead you down a weird rabbit hole of realness.

Realness. Damn. Imagine that! At a bar!

(haha I just pictured some dude at a club screaming at the top of his lungs WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT! at some girl on the dancefloor and she’s like I LIKE HELPING ANIMALS!)

I was thinking though. What if that was the norm? Everyone asking each other what our passions are, instead of what their job is or other shallow layered things. Imagine how much deeper we could connect with people? Or even just weed out the people we don’t have stuff in common with? Like if I could just meet someone, and instantly find out they’re passionate about cooking seafood, or 90’s rock, or studying maps… – I’d be like holy shit, did we just become best friends?!

And it goes the other way too. I’ve met tons of people with passions where I’m like I have no fucking idea how. Like how?!?! Like I’m so lost on what they are passionate about. Like anything medical related (how?), or math (how?), or science (how?), or fashion (how?) related, or any number of things. But when I meet someone that is passionate about something I’ve never had the pleasure of being into, honestly it’s fascinating. Like hearing the little facets of why someone really loves architecture design. It’s awesome! I never would have known. You really get to see the world through a new pair of eyes.

And I mean we don’t have to all get along right? I’m not the type of guy that’s going to tell you unrealistic shit like lets all hold hands and be friends with everyone or whatever the fuck. It’s not gonna happen. I’m just saying, if we found out each others true aspirations and passions and fears real quick, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time bullshitting and flexing for each other, you know?

Just real talk – bypass all the small talk bullshit.

And going back to trying to make our jobs sound as cool as possible when we try to flex for people. if you’re saying something you’re not – you’re kind of just living a lie. That’s a bit harsh but that’s how I feel. And I’ve definitely done it in the past too. It’s just a straight up waste of time, trying to write more about what we aren’t, instead of learning about who we are.

First off, no one should have to feel ashamed about what they do. We all have to make money somehow. Yet people do get ashamed, and its because society really wants us to put on these nametags with our fucking job on it. I can’t really imagine anyone getting embarrassed by something they’re passionate about. It’s physically impossible I think. How can you be embarrassed by what you love?

Passion…it’s like the whole-end game. Finding what you love, and finding a way to make it sustainable in your life. Idk bout you, but that’s what I want people to think about when they think of me. Not the fact that I was a locker room attendant at a hotel picking up dirty towels. And listen, I definitely do understand that a lot of people don’t really even know what they’re passionate about yet. But its all part of the journey…and maybe starting the conversation will help you get there.


Tearing Down Barriers

I want to know what you’re passionate about. What scares you. What’s your fears are. What the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Why you do that weird thing that you’ve been doing since you were a kid.

You know when you have those amazing connections with someone? Where you find out just the most awesome shit about each other, or talk philosophy, or you stay up all night laughing, or you discover their deepest fears? Doesn’t it fucking rock?

Doesn’t it fucking suck that you usually have to befriend someone for like a hundred years to get to that point? What if we could just get there quicker. Like….

Hey blog reader. I really fucking appreciate that you are actually reading this. I’m Elliott. I’m terrified of snails. They’re fucking gross and useless and weird and should all be salted whenever possible.

(Cue Gail the Snail from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Yes yes I don’t like snails. They suck. Lets all have a good laugh about it. But straight up, if someone came up to me, and actually asked me about something deep like that, guarantee you we would be in a weird, deeper relationship right off the bat. We’d be laughing. Or they’d be laughing at me probably.

Today someone asked me what my favorite movies were. We had just met. It doesn’t even seem that deep, but it’s just something that someone else genuinely wants to know, and something that might genuinely define you. I was flustered, not going to lie. I had to think for a minute because no one had asked me that in a really long time. And it led to a wonderful conversation.

Now I feel like I’m just being wishful. Basically I’m suggesting the world tear down their barriers and instantly become best friends with people. I know it’s not gonna happen. I’m just kinda saying, what if. We can at least try to cut out the small talk bullshit.

Now this post doesn’t have much to do with my travels. Other than the fact that, I’ve been forced to share rooms with a LOT of people. And when you’re forced out of your comfort zone like that, you find shit out about each other REAL quick. For better or for worse. But man I got inside jokes I’ll remember forever with people I hung out with for like half a day. Still snapchat them from the other side of the world whenever I think of it. I’m making relationships with people on this trip that feel like I’ve known them forever – but in reality its been like two days. To the point where it hurts to say goodbye. AFTER TWO DAYS.

So kind of a left turn, but that’s another short cut to creating amazing relationships. Meeting people way the fuck out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s traveling through hostels, going through some sort of tough training, or going through some horrible disaster, those relations stick REAL well.

It’s kind of insane how the thing that our body’s most naturally want (comfort), is a main obstacle in personal growth.

When I think about all of the most memorable, greatest moments in my life, just about all of them involved me having that terrified, about-to-jump-off-a-cliff, heart-on-fire feeling. I’ll name a few,

  • moving away from home for the first time and going to university.
  • my first time backpacking alone. Actually every time I backpack alone.
  • going to interview for a new job and crushing it.
  • getting lost in new cities.
  • running with the bulls in Pamplona.
  • hitting on girls that are way out of my league.
  • eating weird shit.
  • giving public speeches.
  • dancing my ass off on an empty dance floor.
  • actually jumping off cliffs.

Getting the fuck out of your comfort zone is going to be a recurring theme in this blog, so I wont beat it over the head right now but seriously… fuck your comfort zone.

All the good things are out here. I promise.


Try It.

So back to the pick up line thing. Maybe I’m way out of bounds here. Maybe it doesn’t work.  It’s worked a bit for me, I guess it has to be kind of organic. Maybe if someone I didn’t feel comfortable with asked me, idk maybe I’d dodge the question. It’s just another one of those get-the-fuck-out-yo comfort zone things. Who knows guys, maybe that one girl will think you’re a creep. But you’ll make ten other good friends.

Or they’ll all think you’re a creep.

Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.

Go ask someone what they’re passionate about. Maybe one of your new friends you don’t know much about. Or if there’s an awkward silence on your first date or something. Or maybe you’ve never even asked your best friend the question.

Anyway. Reader. I do want to know what you’re passionate about. If it’s not too scary, shoot me a message. Let’s talk.



  • I’m passionate about socialization. I like bringing people together and networking. I like seeing how relationships work.
  • I’m passionate about music. I can play a bunch of instruments but I’ve never considered myself to be good enough at just one of them to just be labeled as a guitarist or a drummer or something.
  • The thing that I’m most passionate about music is how it soundtracks people’s lives. I want to soundtrack a movie one day. Someone told me that they got ready for school to a song I wrote once. One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten.
  • I live for music but I fucking hate music videos.
  • I’m passionate about writing stuff like this. Idk if this introspective, motivational stuff is my style or if its just a phase I’m in. I think I could do some good comedy writing too. Maybe even script a movie one day.
  • I don’t know what I want to do for my main career, but one day, after I’m successful, I want to write a book.
  • I want to teach a class at a university after I retire.
  • In another life I would have pursued being a chef.
  • I don’t just “like to travel.” I think it’s a vital part for every single person in life, and the importance of it is not emphasized enough in the States.
  • One of my biggest fears in life is having to say I didn’t have the courage to do something. And trust me I’ve had to say that way too many times already.

I just did that to lay some of myself on the line. So you can’t say I didn’t.

I was serious when I said I want to know what you’re passions and goals and fears. hmu.



Background info: I think the last time I posted I was in Singapore? Or I was about to leave for Singapore? Well Singapore has come and gone. And it was fucking awesome. Very cool architecture and skylines – only way I can describe it is pristine. After that I traveled to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Amazing place, amazing culture, amazing people, extremely sad and terrifying history. Please, if you have a chance, research what happened in Cambodia in the 70’s. Literally a third of their population was wiped out and tortured in the most disgusting ways, for the most ridiculous reasons. It’s as bad as the Holocaust, except it was even more recent, and I think very few people know about it. I didn’t know about it. I had the opportunity to go to S21, an old school that was turned into the main prison and torture facility – it was fucking awful. So eye-opening though. I won’t lie, I’m not a very emotional person but I cried. If you get the chance, go there. Also just went through Siem Reap, primarily known for its temples, just left there and took a claustrophobic 12 hour bus ride down south and now I’m in Sihanoukville, waiting for my water taxi to take me to Koh Rong Samloen – a very undeveloped island that has no wifi. So I’m serious about wanting feedback, but if I don’t get back to you quick, its because I don’t have wifi! I’ll try and talk as soon as possible.

See ya my friends



2 thoughts on “Distinguishing Real Talk From Small Talk.”

  • Bonjour from OC! I liked this read a lot my friend. I do think that people are somewhat embarrassed or ashamed of what they do for a living. A lot of times though, I’ve noticed they aren’t. Shit, I’ve worked at McDonald’s for Christ’s sake lol I was somewhat embarrassed at the time but I got over it. I knew it wasn’t what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life, but it was just to help get me by. Jobs definitely do not define who we are as a person. Finding out what people are really passionate about, their personality and how they treat others is way more telling than what they do for a living. I like real people. I don’t care if you’re a famous celebrity, if you’re fake as fuck or a dick to people I’d rather kick it with someone who is real and has no future whatsoever. That exaggerating about your job part is so true too. I remember when I would exaggerate my Taco Mini Bike position like it was some big deal. Society has a bad habit of judging people for what they currently do for a living. Who really gives a shit? What kind of person you are and what your passions and goals in life are way more meaningful. Keep it real.

    • my mans! thanks for the reply. i miss you guys. yeah I actually remember when you got the job at McDonalds, I honestly respected a lot about how much you didn’t give a fuck what people thought. That was always badass to me. I guess I wouldn’t have been that strong about it. And hell yeah, you nailed it straight on the head about what really defines us. Nothing better than real people. haha yeah I used to exaggerate my job titles so much too. Thanks for the great reply joe, talk to you soon.

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