Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, boys, and gossip. I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I wish I could say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not, nope, not at all.
I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. One day someone finally called me on my shit.
Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and a cute girl had gone a double date–their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up”. The next morning at school I spread the word.
They did not “hook up” as it were, things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. Everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!”, when indeed, he had not.
He came up to me in the hallway and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.
I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty shitty thing, and it was the first time I realized it was a shitty shitty thing to do.
Our words are a crucial part of how we experience life. I was using my words to connect with other bored kids; in a way that was harmful to both the people we were talking about, and to ourselves. I could have been using my words to express how I felt about some very serious things going on in my life, or to ask questions, or I could have just shut the hell up for a minute for some much needed contemplation.
I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit…but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.
The next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…and then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather, or my lunch. But behaving in a small minded manner like this is no good and has to be banned. It’s a hard one, wish me luck.