Something I’ve recently noticed is the way in which I undermine myself with my choice of words (or diction, for all you English majors out there). It’s always subtle; I never intend to degrade myself or invalidate my thoughts and feelings. I just do.
I’m not quite sure whether the problem is self-construed, a result of social constructs, or just a giant conglomeration with multiple facets. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t necessarily matter what causes it. What matters is what I’m going to do about it. So, I’m writing it down. I refuse to let these five phrases control me in 2018.
1. “… but I don’t know.”
After spending a solid five minutes explaining my perspective on a piece of art, I ended my mini-monologue with this. The problem? I completely nullified everything I had previously said, even though I knew what I was talking about. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I often say this out of the belief that because I don’t know as much as some people, I don’t know enough to speak up. Thus I instantly add this phrase as a way to safeguard myself into not appearing dumb (because Heaven-forbid we appear human, not knowing everything).
2. “Does that make sense?”
I’ve been in far too many situations where I am required to “feel out” the other person and make myself exponentially clear, often confusing the point even more. What ends up happening is I make myself look like a fool and usually make them appear unintelligent as well.
If someone doesn’t understand what you are attempting to communicate, it is their responsibility to say so. They need to ask you to specify what you’re saying/thinking/feeling/etc.
3. “If not, it’s totally fine.”
This is probably more of a personal thing. I typically say this after making a suggestion or proposing a plan because, honestly, I’m just scared of their response. I’m scared they’ll say no. I’m scared they’ll think it was a horrible idea and proceed to tell me so. Are these fears rational? Probably not. Which is why I’m going to toss this expression out the window in 2018.
Okay, let’s get this straight: I am not refusing to apologize to people. What I am refusing? Saying sorry for things that are 1) completely out of my control or 2) not my fault. I have had people bump into me only for me to say sorry. I have been interrupted by people while I was speaking only for me to apologize for it.
We do not have to apologize for thinking. We do not have to apologize when someone else hurts us. We do not have to apologize for being alive.
Of course I will apologize when I have done something wrong that needs to be made right. However, I refuse to apologize to you simply because you choose to be an indecent human being.
5. “I just…”
I’ve noticed a surprising number of women say this to start their sentences.
I just feel like it’s easier to do it this way!
I just wanted to see if you had time to help me with some homework…
I just wanted to check on that report you were working on to see if it was done yet.
Adding this simple word completely changes the dynamic of the entire sentence. The request becomes softer, yes, but it is almost defensive. We need not defend our words. Simply ask if the report is done. If it needs to be done, say so. Ask someone to help you with your homework. Don’t be afraid to be direct with people. This advice is more for myself than anyone else. But it still rings true.
Many of my New Year’s Resolutions–which I so immensely love–are focused around the ideas of self-reflection, self-awareness, and fully processing my thoughts and emotions. Let this be the first of many strides toward a “better me.”