I’ve been mulling something over and over in my head.
And the more I think about it, the more I like it:
What if I never talked shiz about anyone?
I first thought about it a couple years ago when someone mentioned in passing to me that someone they knew never spoke badly about anyone. They just…didn’t.
It kind of blew my mind.
A few years ago, when I was trying to figure out my New Years resolutions (which is almost always a little unpleasant because resolutions are almost never kept, and…well…the failure of the non-keeping makes me feel really bad about myself) the only one that appealed to me was “I want to stop talking bad about other people.”
Let me just say, I don’t sit around all day on the phone jawing about what so-and-so did and can you believe she said this and oh-my-God-Becky,-look-at-her-butt-it’s-so-big! But I have said things that I immediately regretted. I have shared information that wouldn’t thrill the person if they had been there. And every time I have, a little voice (that’s getting louder and louder as I get older) says, “Really? That person isn’t even here to defend themselves. What if someone were saying things about you? And that person you’re telling all these things to–do you really think she’s going to trust you now?”
And this kills me.
It kills me because I so want to be a safe place for people, and at the same time, I want to surround myself with people who are also safe. And part of feeling safe is feeling like the other person accepts you just as you are–warts and all. Gossip undermines the very foundation of safety.
I have been on the receiving end of gossip. I’ve shied away from certain friendships because another friend had given me an earful. But those experiences are not my experiences. Gossip is like giving another person a cloudy lens to look at other people through. But I don’t want to look through another person’s lens. I want to look through my own lens.
And we’ve all been on the really icky end of gossip–when people are rude to you in play practice because of untrue things someone else has told them about you or when, years later, someone you had always wanted to be friends with apologizes for thinking you were a bitch in high school because several others had told her as much (I actually was a little bitchy in high school, but that’s neither here nor there).
I don’t think focusing on the good in other people means turning a blind eye to injustice. But the way to deal with injustice is head-on with the offending person–not across the room to someone else.
All it really boils down to for me is fear. I want so badly for other people to love me and approve of me that I have been willing to step on others to get what I think I need. And that’s the bleak truth behind the gossip for me. That’s why I’ve done it.
And that’s not okay with me.
For the next week, I want to focus on other people’s finer points. If something is distasteful about them, I want to keep it to myself unless I must say something, and in that case, I want to say it to that person. If gossip is defined as “idle chatter” or “speech that is only self serving,” then I want to eliminate gossip from my speech for an entire seven days.
After all, this world is far too big and grand and wondrous and so freaking interesting.
And I don’t want to get so mired in the small stuff that I miss it.