I was in sixth grade the first time I slipped.
In sixth grade, the bad kids whispered profanity from their desk when the teacher announced a pop-quiz and moved out of ear-shot. In the white-noise of our lunchroom, they shouted it behind the back of our cafeteria monitor. In the halls, an expletive timed with the slam of a locker door covered their indiscretion. It was a tool meant to create shock value — for attention. I cowered in fear and awe of their blatant disregard for authority.
By sixth grade, my mother had taught me the meaning of words matter, and I knew that cursing was just that, a curse. I’d also read the definition in the dictionary, “To show irreverence to God.” So I tried not to think, much less speak, vulgarity.
But kids being kids, some of them noticed, and started making fun of my “goody-too-shoes” speech.
I felt humiliated, and as their taunts grew, so did my shame. Then, one day in science class, our teacher stepped out. I took a deep breath, intentionally knocked my text-book on the floor, and just above a whisper, cursed.
Immediately, I cringed, waiting for the lightning strike. But nothing dramatic happened, except three of the cool kids rushed over. One of the boys slapped my shoulder, “Goody-too-shoes isn’t so good after all.” I took note of the respect tingeing his voice.
I changed that day, a level of acceptance from my peers allowed me to become one of them. Over time, cursing moved from my own attention-getting tool, into a habit I stopped noticing. It became part of who I was.
The workplace often feels like sixth grade. And I carried my ugly habit with me, until,….
Well, I’ve talked enough for one day. We’ll have to pick this up later.
Anita FreshFaith@ Work
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.
New International Version (NIV)
He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.