Recently I received the nicest compliment: “You always know the right thing to say.” While I was flattered and empowered by this statement at the time, sitting here right now, that could not feel further from the truth.
Actually, this happens to me all the time. I’ll be chatting away, hanging out with a fantastic group of people, then some terrible form of verbal diarrhea explodes from my mouth. The kind of awkward, offensive outburst that seemed innocent enough as I start to respond, then as the words become clear from my mouth I madly wish I could grab hold of them and pop them back in, chew them up, and save everyone’s ears (and my ego) from ever having to hear them.
Today, while hanging out with a group of mamas I admire and care for, someone asked about Easter egg hunts, and who was doing them. While it seemed to me (afterwards thinking about it) that some of these mamas were probably thinking “Easter egg hunt? Dude, I’m just trying to put some food in my belly and try to keep this baby alive here.”
So of course, what do I say? Oh, something along the lines of “I’ve got it all planned and ready and perfectly set up, complete with pictures.” In the snobbiest voice I have ever heard come out of me.
I pretty much just said “I’m awesome and have it all together, suck on it.” Which couldn’t even be farther from the truth. I’m a disaster.
And apparently, I’m a huge jerk.
Why did I say that?! Why do I ever say anything? Right now I feel like I should just lock myself up and keep my big snooty mouth to myself.
So why do I say such awfully awkward and inappropriate things in these situations? Hmm.
I know a big piece of it comes from excitement. When you spend 96% of your day passing balls, changing diapers, cutting up food, and wiping noses, mouths and butts, achieving anything beyond showering (okay, even showering sometimes) feels PHENOMENAL. Plus, I love, love, love Easter egg hunts – always have, hopefully always will – and the fact that I get to share this with my baby for the first time makes me downright giddy.
So when someone mentioned an egg hunt, my mind went ZING and I splurted out my thought without thinking. But excitement is no excuse for making other people potentially feel crummy or “less than”. I want to build people up, not bring them down, and it would sure be nice to leave a gathering without feeling like an idiot.
So what can I do about fixing this verbal spew that makes me feel so crappy, and gives off a terrible impression about who I am and what I’m all about? This particular scenario is certainly not an isolated incident.
I think the key is to pause. Starting now, I’m going to try to remember to wait. When someone has finished talking, I don’t need to jump in right away. Let there be peace. Let there be time for thoughts to fully develop, and leave space for others to add their own valuable words to a conversation before attempting to share what I have to say.
Remembering to pause and let each moment sink in isn’t always going to be easy, but hopefully it will help me feel like a little bit less of an awkward jerk. Maybe, just maybe, I’m capable of presenting to the world the kind and thoughtful person I try to be.
Do you have a problem with uttering awkwardness, too? What’s the most embarrassing slew of mouth garbage to flow from your quick-talking lips?