I find myself choosing my words with extra care these days.
In my early 20’s I was taught a harsh lesson that we all need to learn. I was 20 years old. I was stupid. I thought my actions had no consequences. I thought I ruled my very small, very unimportant world.
Little did I know, one phrase could change my whole outlook on life.
I prided myself on being fair and unbiased (I was a journalism major after all).
Little did I know, I was far from either. Out one night with some friends, I was sitting at a table with some acquaintances. I knew them and they knew me, but I had no idea of their interests. I made a comment that was considered offensive to one of the people at the table. At the time, I was called out in front of everyone for my choice in wording. To say that I was embarrassed is a giant understatement.
Afterwards, I left the table. To this day, I have never forgotten how embarrassed I felt or how sorry I was for offending someone I didn’t even know that well.
Aren’t these times in life handy?
They serve as gentle or maybe not-so-gentle reminders that we all cross the line. I crossed the line that night and it taught me to be more aware of my actions and the words I use. Just today, I was commenting on a social media post someone made. I remember thinking instantly, “My goodness, she looks so beautiful!” Truthfully, with all our body image awareness these days, I am afraid to comment on anyone’s appearance, even if it is positive! I have become so hyper-aware of how a comment may or may not be perceived that I try to steer clear of them altogether.
So my comments usually come out something along these lines, “You have such a beautiful soul.”
Or there is this safe one, “I love to see you smiling!” Neither of these things are lies. I am being as genuine as possible without saying a specific quality about their appearance. It is such a thin line between seeming real and seeming vain.
Personal expression and communication is hard.
I am thankful for self-awareness and life lessons. Does anyone else struggle with filtering your words in conversation and social media comments? I would love to hear some of your “safe” comments.