Originally posted August 30, 2007
Why do we find it so hard to say exactly what we mean? Have we been so busy since birth that we couldn’t be bothered to foster a talent for expression? Is it because eloquence is an art murdered by the hoards of talentless bloggers that bombard us with their bad grammar, terrible delivery and questionable content? Or is it simply because we’re too scared to say what we really think?
I can hear you—yes, you—thinking to yourself at this very moment, “We, what do you mean we?” I know believe me I know that you too think you’re a straight shooter, one who speaks their mind freely without fear of reprimand and / or excommunication from the Cool Kid Crew. BUT, I’ll bet you money that you’re not as candid or straightforward as you might think. Everyone likes to believe that they keep it real enough to not be categorized as fake, but most are incapable of expressing themselves effectively enough to be able to sincerely reject this label.
Any asshole can talk—talk is cheap, right? It takes; however, an exceptional asshole to express in style and only a distinguished asshole can be honest sans euphemisms and allegories, thus walking the proverbial walk. A distinguished asshole can say what they mean, be nice, but not fake and get a hug of relief from the target of their truth-telling tornado when it’s all said and done. What kind of asshole am I? Distinguished my dear, that’s me.
As an office cohort once put it, “the short answer to your question about why people don’t say exactly what they mean is that they’re too scared to rock the boat.” I find that for the most part, she’s right. Yep, you’re just plain scared! Don’t worry though, there’s nothing wrong with being afraid. Puppies are afraid of the dogcatcher, babies are afraid of SIDS and lobsters are afraid of little cups of melted butter.
Years ago I wrote a blog about a New Year’s resolution I made. For those of you who haven’t read my old blogs, I’ll re-cap: I announced, in front of a bunch of people, that I’d actually be honest whenever someone asked me for my “honest opinion.” Everyone scoffed at the time and told me this would eventually blow up in my face. “No way,” I said, “I got this man—you’ll see. I got this.”
This, of course, completely backfired because I soon discovered that people didn’t really want my honest opinion, they wanted me to validate what they already thought to be true. I didn’t, however, give up and I continued on my reckless truth-telling spree, because that’s just how I roll.
Anyway, when I wrote that blog, I caught a lot of shit for being mean when I was telling it like it was. I was told that I was being tactless, heartless and mean spirited when trying to communicate my feelings. I beg to differ; I was simply stating what I believed to be true in my own unique style. I inevitably rocked the boat on more than one occasion and because of this, lost some friends. Believe me when I say that I’m not unnecessarily mean. I just have a rather harsh vocabulary and like to be as concise as possible when expressing my stance on important issues.
I know I can be abrasive, I’ve been told. So, if you’re too delicate to listen to my filthy mouth, don’t talk to me. Don’t worry though, with great power comes great responsibility and I know when to come out with guns blazing and when to sneak through a side door with a butterfly knife.
Hypothetically, if you were to ask me if I like your boyfriend and the answer is no I would simply reply, “no.” If you pressed me to tell you why, I’d explain that “he’s loser who takes you for granted whilst expecting you to be his mother AND his lover. He also sucks in that he’s mostly a deadbeat who does nothing for you but suck your personality from your soul. Because of this you’ve become a disappointing shell of the badass you once were. You should dump him, but that’s your decision to make.”
Sure I could be nicer, I could say something like, “well honey, he’s a nice man, but I don’t think you two mesh well.” But why, pray tell, would I do that? That statement is as vague as a Thai prostitute’s gender. You don’t mesh well—what the fuck does that mean anyway? I suspect it means that you and your boyfriend simply don’t fit well together. Whoa. Now that’s a statement that’s going to create waves and maybe spark change, right? Keep on dreamin’ sucker. You go ahead and be nice. Let your thoughts blend into the background like a ninja on a dark night. Me on the other hand, I’ll make sure to keep making lasting impressions. I’ll keep provoking thought long after you and your niceness have been forgotten.
If you have an opinion express it in no uncertain terms or save your breath. Everyone has an opinion, yet few are willing to stand up and state what it is they are really thinking. This has perplexed me my entire life.
For example, at an old job, when I saw the same group of people being abused and manipulated repeatedly; I thought I was the only one noticing. Why? Because I assumed that if someone were being treated badly, eventually they would speak up in an attempt to defend themselves. Apparently I was wrong because when I finally got up the nerve to talk to a coworker about the shady goings on, she informed me that everyone was aware of how fucked up the situation was. They knew and they chose not to do nothing. No one wanted to rock the allegorical boat so they suffered in silence. They shoveled someone else’s’ shit and smiled as they moved the interdepartmental manure from one side of the office to the other. They were afraid to lose their jobs the way a puppy is afraid of the dogcatcher.
Losing income, that’s a valid fear right? It is, but losing self-respect is detrimental to your character and if you don’t respect yourself enough to defend yourself, you’re going to spend a lot of time telling people to find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means to you. And they won’t bother. If you don’t walk the walk, why should they? The correct answer is, they shouldn’t.
Still not sure how you can employ what I’m trying to advocate?
The next time you are asked out by someone you have no interest in being friendly with, just say you’re not into it. I’m not insinuating that you should viciously shoot them down, just be real. Honesty is almost always appreciated and if it’s not, this person wasn’t worth the effort you made and you’ll be able to sleep soundly knowing you have one less loser in your life. Don’t be afraid of a borderline acquaintance the way an infant is afraid of SIDS.
Lastly, if you’re starting to feel like that girl or guy you’ve been dating the last few months isn’t doing it for you anymore. Say so and when you say so, tell them the fucking truth. Don’t start it off with “it’s not you, it’s me…” they’ll know it’s a lie because you’ll broadcast it via the dead glaze that will inevitably emanate from your eyeballs as you speak.
Tell your soon-to-be insignificant other that you hate it when she calls you 18 times in a row “just to say hi” whenever you’re out with your boys. Tell her that it makes you feel like she’s cut your nuts off and stores them in her purse next to her tampons. Don’t be afraid of the insults she’ll likely spew or the drink she might throw in your face. Don’t fear her way a lobster fears little cups of melted butter.
In closing, say what you feel, convey what you mean, but bear in mind the perils of perception. Three people can hear and interpret the same phrase three different ways so be an active conversationalist. Ask the listener if they understand, reiterate, use metaphors, allegories, whatever it takes to get your point across. Don’t; however, get lost in similes and hypothetical scenarios or your message will be consumed by the void in the vague.