Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words may never hurt me. I’m not buying it! On one hand, I agree that I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings, and responses, and I know I interpret situations through my own filter based on previous life experiences and beliefs. I also know that words are powerful and impactful. Words have energy; words have life. They can be used to uplift or destroy. Words can offer loving support or be used as a sharp weapon.
I recently had an experience of dining alone. As I walked in, the hostess asked, “Just one?” I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it, but I immediately felt myself shift to a place of embarrassment and slight shame. I almost wanted to apologize and explain the reason I was eating alone. I wanted to reassure her that even though I was alone I am a good tipper. Anything to avoid being seated in Loserville, the noisy table next to the kitchen, or the table next to the front door. You know the one I’m referring to, the one that receives an Arctic blast of cold air every time someone enters.
I was surprised by my reaction. This was an old story, a ridiculous lie I used to tell myself when I was much younger. Yet here it was, a little twinge of something is wrong with me because I’m single. Luckily, with maturity I am able to push back on that internal bully!
Yet, it got me thinking about the power of words and society’s subtle, subconscious (and sometimes blatant) regard of single people. It’s been passed through our collective lineage. I hear it when people say, “You’ve NEVER been married?” I see it in advertisements for events and special offers, “1 person $30 or 2 people $50.”
I don’t bring this up as a complaint; I mention it as a “noticing.” I believe noticing and being aware of something is the first step to impacting and changing it. My commitment is to be mindful of my own language and hope others will follow.
I’m curious about what you’re noticing about the language of being single, and I invite you post your observations here. It starts with us. Together we can influence the collective thought about being single in today’s world.