Did I Really Just Say That?

By Katie, 5:23 am

A rather curious and disconcerting thing happened last week: I used a curse word. Which almost never happens.

Lest you think I am holier than thou, let me first say that I have no real beef with people who use curse words regularly. I don’t see language as a measuring stick for morality, and I don’t think I am any better or worse because of the words that come out of my mouth.

 (Source)

For me, my lack of cursing can be attributed almost solely to how I was raised. I heard very few curse words growing up, and they just never became part of my vocabulary. I don’t even think the words, much less speak them.

So you can imagine my surprise when – while attending a networking event for young professionals last week – a curse word suddenly flew out of my mouth! I was just chatting away and then, BAM!, there it was. Hanging out in the air. Kind of awkwardly.

Let me tell you, my embarrassment over this situation is rather intense. Not because of the curse word itself, but because of its origin. I didn’t say it out of anger, and I wasn’t making a joke. I just slipped it into regular conversation because…wait for it…I wanted the people there to think I was cool. I wanted them to like me.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I just typed that. My reaction is the same as it was when it first happened: Are you in middle school or what, Katie???

The whole thing is majorly ridiculous. First of all, I am fully aware that swearing does not make me cool. I was born without the cool gene, and that’s a fact I got over a long time ago. Second of all, why would I care what those random people thought of me anyway? I write a blog about self-love and self-acceptance, for crying out loud. Why would I waste even a crumb of energy trying to impress a crowd of strangers?

This silly situation is forcing me to accept the fact that we are never totally free from the opinions of others. Even the most self-assured people in the world still have an ounce of self-consciousness inside of them, and will do things that are totally unlike themselves in the hopes of gaining a bit of validation. Just because we’re not in middle school anymore – where being liked by our peers is our number one concern – doesn’t mean we don’t care what other people think of us.

And is that such a bad thing? To a certain extent, isn’t trying to impress people ingrained into our nature? It means that we’re humans – social beings – and hence we’re concerned with our connections to others. That’s just the way it is.

It’s only problematic when we become willing to deny or ignore our true selves in order to impress others. When we exhaust ourselves trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for us. When we compromise our own identities, or worse, lose touch with them completely.

Last week I was totally and completely myself, except for that little tiny curse word. So instead of beating myself up over it, I’m going to acknowledge it for what it is: a reminder that I’m human, and hence will always have a desire to be accepted and liked by others. And that’s ok, so long as I always remember that I never have to change for anyone, that I am free to be myself, openly and unapologetically. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, damn it! (Nope, still not cool – haha!)

Have you ever done something totally unlike yourself to try to impress someone else?

and/or

Just for fun: do you have a potty mouth?

32 Responses to “Did I Really Just Say That?”

  1. Sarah says:

    My language is colourful! I like to think that it’s because I am passionate and excitable rather than a poor command of English:)

  2. Karen says:

    Katie, you were most definitely born WITH the cool gene! I think you are pretty cool and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one : ) I will be the first to admit that I do have a potty mouth – a pretty bad one too. Since having kids I have toned it down a lot but there are still times when I slip a bad word out when I know I shouldn’t. I am definitely more conscious of my word selection around my kids. I don’t want them to repeat me!

  3. I agree with Karen, you are super cool in my world.

    But, I agree, wanting love and acceptance of others is ingrained in who we are as human beings and while, I think it is important that we love and accept our selves first, I also think it is completely natural to have moments where just wanting to fit in comes out.

    And yes, I have a massive potty mouth. I think a delicately placed f bomb is well serving from time to time ;) . I also use the words dude, chick and awesome a lot.

    • Faith says:

      Same here on the potty mouth – I find certain words cathartic! Although I do make a point to hold it back if I’m in certain situations where it might make others awkward…such as my job (until I found out that everyone else has just as big of one!)

      • Katie says:

        Speaking of f-bombs, when I was in college I started an organization called “The F-Word,” except that we meant “feminism.” HAHA! :)

      • That is one advantage of working for myself; no worries about offending co-workers. I am also very upfront with my clients that I have a potty mouth and if that offends them – then we aren’t a good fit :D

  4. I have the biggest F’in potty mouth! :D

    But its getting better. I used to curse because it made what I was saying more serious I think. People would surely listen more if I cursed right? I think its directly related to the “what I have to say isn’t good enough on it’s own” notion.

    My boyfriend has a friend who curses every other word and when he’s around him . . . So does he and he’s not like that . . . . Hmm

    I’m convinced that no matter how old we are, some situations will always feel like high school!

    • Katie says:

      AGREED! And I’m totally intrigued by this notion of cursing in order to make what we say more serious…I think that was partly what was going on with me last week!

  5. Kelly says:

    I do have a potty mouth but I try to control it. I have a big problem with the word sh*t. It just comes out!!! GRRRRR!!!

  6. Tamara says:

    I never cursed growing up, because no one in my family did. But Sweetie swears like a sailor (or rather a marine, since that’s who he gets it from), so more have been creeping in. I deliberately avoid swearing when I’m angry, though. It just makes everything worse…and I consider the argument lost as soon as I have to resort to using curse words to hurt people.

    As for pretending to be something you’re not to blend in, I actually have the opposite problem of trying to be hip: I often have to pretend to be conservative. It’s unethical, to be sure, but when Grandma innocently assumes that everyone in the room listens to Rush Limbaugh, or all my group members are chatting about church functions, it’s hard to be honest and say, “Oh, I’m an atheist. Don’t mind me.” Usually I can just stay silent, and it’s not like I have the burning desire to contract people (because I’m certainly not liberal by any stretch of the imagination), but in the interest of keeping the peace, pretending is sometimes the best option.

    • Katie says:

      Interesting point, and I have done the same thing. My social and political beliefs are relatively strong, but I often tone them down in certain company – not because I don’t want to be true to myself, but rather because I don’t want to start a completely unnecessary argument.

  7. Arielle says:

    I, too, have a potty mouth and it’s usually to get the passion of my statements across.

  8. I have found myself, at times, mirroring others…it’s not that I take on all their traits and quirks, but if they’re swearing, I might drop one or two myself. Mirroring is something I do rather instinctively and I think it’s a good thing. It helps others feel comfortable around me. That said? There are some people that I will not mirror at all, if I think their traits are destructive or ill-intentioned…or if I plain just don’t like them. With some people I will act the opposite!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I too mirror people a lot, completely by nature, but I’ve never thought of it in quite those terms before.

  9. bubu says:

    I used to have more of a potty mouth (esp when I worked in a big law firm full of fight-happy litigators) but it has now morphed into “mommy” mouth -so i spontaneously yell out “fudge!” or “hell—o”! or “holy m—oses”! or “shoot” or “what the–” because it is now second nature to catch myself before swearing! (Driving is the hardest time to keep that in check.)
    Re how we talk around others: I noticed at a work-related event last week that it becomes so easy to blend in and talk about how work-obsessed I am, when the truth is I have worked hard to find a life-work balance, and to compartmentalize and turn off work when I go home – but somehow that doesn’t seem to play so well at a cocktail party, so instead i groan on about working hard… makes me feel dishonest, and, as you say, it sort of pops out before you realize it. But I also appreciate how fortunate I am to have this balance and don’t want to seem to be bragging about it either.

    • Katie says:

      I completely understand this. I too have toned down different successes throughout my life out of fear of seeming arrogant about it. Sometimes I think that’s a total shame!

      • Alexis says:

        That is a shame. If you aren’t boosting or bragging there is no reason to pretend you aren’t as bright as you really are. If ppl feel bad about themselves because of what someone has or has done, they need to take steps to figure out why they can’t get “it” for themselves. No reason for you to “act” less-than you are just to make someone else “feel” like more than what they are.

  10. Alexis says:

    OMGoodness, you are so “darn” cute. You are cool cus you are open minded and willing to learn about things that you may not agree with. That IS the coolest way to be. Bono and Sting would applaud you. lol.
    We all have our thing when it comes to language. I never write G*D with the O. It’s a Jewish thing.
    I don’t swear in public out of respect for the ppl around me. But in private!!! I always say I don’t trust ppl who doesn’t swear. But the kind that act as if Armageddon is about to be unleashed cus a @#^% was just used.
    I did cater to my audience but that comes for the childhood abuser of being brainwashed into being a ppl pleaser which turned into martyrdom later in life. (Yada, yawn, I need to stop talking about that stuff) Anyway, I remember when I started to get over that I was like an addict on crack being ME for the first time in my life. I am glad I didn’t abandon my sensitivity for other ppl’s feelings though.
    Funny thing about swearing in public… I was being adjusted at the chiropractor and ick, he hit a bad spot. I yelled out the F bomb! I apologised but the look on his face! Even though I kept telling myself the guy is a professional, not to mention in his late 40s, I still felt low and self conscience. BUT, after that I noticed he swears too! He let his guard down and became more relaxed around me after that incident. I loved it cus he stopped censoring himself.

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for your vote of confidence on the coolness thing! Haha. And I love your story about the chiropractor – funny how cursing in someone’s presence can actually make that person more comfortable! Also, never feel like you have to apologize for sharing about your childhood experiences and how they’ve affected you. I get a lot out of those comments, and I’m sure other readers would agree!

  11. Katie, this is an AWESOME post! Thank you for your honesty! I can absolutely relate to how you’ve felt. Throughout my life, I’ve also wanted to be cool and said things because I thought they’d get me there. (Shockingly they didn’t…hehe.)

    I think Karen made a great point about mirroring people. It’s so interesting because I do this, too, naturally.

    This post really reminds me of the importance of being yourself. I love that you were gentle with yourself and were able to put things into perspective. You’re always teaching me some great lessons! :)

  12. shelley says:

    i think it’s great oyu were abl eto realize why you said it adn that means you are truly in touch with yourself. I do have a potty mouth but i’m in college so hopefully it won’t last forever..such a bad habit!

  13. I have the biggest potty mouth EVA! Seriously when I was young my parents would make me bite on soap every time I cussed, and then after a while I just decided to show my saucy-ness and cussed, and walked into the bathroom, put liquid soap on my tongue and stuck it out at my Dad. So yah, I think I have always been this well lol it was never about being cool for me, I think language in all its colors was fascinating and I think breaking the rules was something early on I liked :)

  14. Sean Webb says:

    I am a spiritual teacher, and I use profanity all the time. I even dropped an f-bomb when speaking about my enlightenment experience in a recent video podcast episode that focuses on spirituality and inner peace… what I called “meeting God”… and I dropped an f-bomb. I am either sick or fully liberated from the expectations of society. Take your pick. ;-)

  15. [...] Katie wrote a fantastic post (as always!) about being yourself. Basically, she blurted out a curse word in front of strangers at a networking event. The big deal? [...]

  16. [...] Katie wrote a illusory post (as always!) about being yourself. Basically, she blurted out a abuse word in front of strangers during a networking event. The large [...]

  17. Ruth says:

    I DO curse, but usually when I’m alone and talking to myself (yes, I do that, don’t judge) about something upsetting. Or else, if I stub my toe, or something.

    I used to be incapacitated by my need to be liked and my desire to be cool (which, I seriously don’t have the cool gene, like, nerd city over here in Ruthville for reelz–see how cool that was?). But, the older I get, the less I care about what people (at least, people I don’t know) think about me. One of the nice things about my journey through time ;-)

  18. yesh says:

    @Karen I agree with you. I was just researching for articles on the whole idea that “Swearing is not cool” and I came across this article. Well, what can say! Count me in as one of the many people who consider Katie cool :-) )

    LOVED Katie’s quote “It’s only problematic when we become willing to deny or ignore our true selves in order to impress others. When we exhaust ourselves trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for us. When we compromise our own identities, or worse, lose touch with them completely.”. In-reference to that quote, let me just say: Been there. Done that.(happened during my 1st and 2nd semesters in college, which lead to me becoming a victim to relational-aggression from my peers in class). I had to learn the hard way that I wasn’t meant to fit in with my peer-groups and that helped set me free from seeking validation from anybody (especially my peers and friends). I’d rather be a loner than to fit in with a group just so that I could have my identity validated. So yes, your quote resonated with me! :-)

    • Katie says:

      I’m glad to hear that you can relate! I absolutely agree with what you’ve written here; fitting into some group or box isn’t worth it when it means compromising who you truly are.

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