I’m sure plenty of you have read NTKOG’s blog. Last year, she challenged herself to do 250 things that were completely uncharacteristic, just to grow as a person and push herself out of her comfort zone. I have a lot of respect for her and I really love the project. I’m linking to it because, well, I’m going to talk about being “not that kind of girl.” I’m not, however, going to challenge myself to BE that kind of girl. Today. Actually, I will never challenge myself to be THIS kind of girl. But I may, in the future, take on a NTKOG-style challenge.
NTKOG who: likes to participate in cliches and pleasantries, who asks “how was your day?” and says, “I miss you” and tells you to “have a good day” everyday.
Instead, I abhor cliche. I’m not a huge fan of small talk or pleasantries. Not because I’m a cold-hearted bitch who doesn’t give a shit (although that may be part of it), but because those things don’t really mean anything any more.
To me, “have a good day” (particularly when said everyday) means no more than asking “How are you?” and hearing the answer “Fine.” What has anyone accomplished there? Someone asked a question, probably without expecting a real answer and probably without even listening for an answer, and someone else answered it without saying anything at all. So now we’ve just wasted our time, because we’ve accomplished nothing.
I don’t like to do things simply because they are “the things we do.” I prefer to think for myself. I prefer to ask questions to which I want to know the answers. I prefer to answer questions that have been asked with some actual curiosity.
This is not to say that I don’t care how your day was. I’d just rather find out by other means. Asking other, more interesting questions. Obviously, sometimes I’m going to ask “how are you?” or “how was your day?” It happens. But I don’t like feeling forced into it. If someone says it to me all the time, I feel kind of bitchy for not saying it back. I recognize this is my problem, but I’ve faced the argument that I’m rude for not asking. It’s not fun.
For instance, I don’t say “bless you” when someone sneezes. Not because I’m a rude and terrible and uncaring human being, but because I don’t actually think that part of your soul is escaping through your nose when you sneeze. Moreover, I’m an atheist, so I’m not sure whom I’m would be calling upon to bless you anyway. So I just don’t say it. Some people will sneeze and then look at me. I will smile back. They will say, “Uh, don’t you want to say ‘bless you’?”
Why no, no I don’t. And I will nicely tell them so and the reasons why. Which is usually followed by an eye-roll from the sneezer.
I just don’t participate in many things simply because “I’m supposed to” or “that’s the way it is.”
In relationships, particularly, I find these pleasantries trying. Can we just stipulate that I care about you and you care about me and that pretty much everyday we both want the other person to have a good day? I’d rather say something meaningful than “have a good day” as a habit.
Generally, I’m not much of a morning person. The last thing I want in the morning is to have a pointless conversation of pleasantries. It just makes me grumpy.
I’m not saying all of this to accuse anyone else of saying things they don’t mean. I’m sure that every single time you say “have a good day” or “how are you?” or “fine” that’s exactly what you mean. Instead, I’m merely trying to suggest that those phrases have lost almost all meaning because we don’t think before we say them. We say them out of habit. That doesn’t mean we don’t mean “have a good day,” it means that it’s a habit to say it and a habit to hear it and that, as such, it doesn’t really mean anything any more.
An example: My Nana is a very conservative, Christian woman. She doesn’t even like the word “crap.” If I were to call her tomorrow morning and say, “Fuck,” she would probably feel very offended and shocked. If I did that every morning for a month, though? She would probably still be offended, let’s face it. But it would no longer hold it’s shock value. She would be expecting it. In all likelihood, she probably wouldn’t even hear it any more.
So why say things over and over until they lose their value? Why not express your love and care and such with a meaningful expression. “I love the way you eat potatoes” or “I smile when you do that thing where you lick your lips in a very specific fashion” or “I hope you make it to work without losing your shoes again.” Those things are special, because they’re about a specific person.
Just something to ponder.