Have you noticed when you are talking to someone how aware you are that what you choose to say to that person is a product of who that person is? In other words, if you criticize someone, you are criticizing her, and if you praise someone you are praising her. And so if you criticize someone you might say she deserved the criticism, and if you praise someone you might say she deserved to be praised.
In this way, when you are talking, you are in some way aware that the person to whom you are speaking is responsible not just for what he says but also for what you say, for you have chosen words specifically for him. Each conversation is a unique result of the intersection of two people, a conversation that could not and would not be duplicated precisely by any other two people.
And yet, how often when we are criticized do we say, “I don’t deserve that!” How often when we are criticized do we feel attacked, as if we are victims of some verbal stone hurled our way at random, as if we somehow played no part in what was said to us.
Isn’t it possible that we deserve everything we hear, even the worst and cruelest insults? Isn’t it possible we even deserve to hear someone say, “You are fat, you are stupid, and you are boring?” Why would we deserve to hear this? Because it is the truth, and it is just the jolt we need to finally get to the gym, read the New York Times, and start telling more interesting stories?
Doubtful. But perhaps, in hearing these words spoken aloud and not just in the quiet and claustrophobic confines of our own mind, perhaps actually hearing them we will finally be compelled to say aloud, to say in our own voice what we have been longing to hear: “I am not fat, I am not stupid, and I am not boring.” You would certainly deserve that.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com