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Every once in a while, it hits me like a ton of bricks. That feeling, sensation, realization that half the words coming out of my mouth are complete garbage. Okay. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But definitely unnecessary. You see, when I was little, I would talk from sunrise to sunset - day and night, non stop blabbing. From what my mom says about raising me, I can infer that I annoyed the living crap out of her as a child. But I was only talking, right? I wasn't even saying worth listening to. Wait. That's exactly it. I spoke for hours on end, but said nothing of true meaning. None of my words had a true purpose.
Can we all agree that small talk really sucks? Because it's definitely the worst. I mean come on. No way on god's green earth the weather is really that interesting. I see small talk as an utter waste of time, particularly because more often than not, it feels forced. Like someone isn't actually interested in speaking to you, rather just attempting to fill what they perceive to be an "awkward" silence. And I get it - sometimes speaking seems like a way to disrupt what could become an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, this tendency to fear quiet has led us as a species to develop a need for continuous noise. We speak simply to fill empty space. To avoid quietness, we waste words, spouting sentences without thinking twice about their consequences.
Another example? Sometimes in school (or just anywhere really) , people can be shockingly mean. Like downright awful. We'll say things half the time that we don't actually believe at all. Either that or we try to make a point, but end up going so far overboard that our original point is lost in translation somewhere between the brain and the mouth. It's the difference between, "hey, her hair looks kinda messy today," and - "hey, her hair looks like something died in it!" I've said something along those lines a few too many times, and now I ask myself, WHY? Did I think it was funny, that I could draw a laugh or two from my crappy 'joke'? Did I think making fun of someone else's hair would draw attention away from the bird's nest perched on my scalp?
Why are we so awful to eachother? Why, despite having the most complex brain are we still unable to filter out the negativity and hatred spewing out of our own mouths?
To summarize, my epiphany of sorts was comprised of two major realizations.
1) We often speak for no reason other than to fill empty space
2) In an attempt to eliminate that silence, we often hurt people in the process
So. This post is called the Purpose Challenge, why? Because talking about problems won't solve them, as much as we wish it would. I challenge you.
Wake up. Be conscious. Do not let a single word escape your lips before asking yourself - Why am I saying this? Am I making someone laugh? Smile? Am I helping them? Are these words going to positively or negatively affect someone? Your answers to these questions should determine whether or not you actually speak. I've been doing this for almost a month now, and I can't believe how much of the things I say are totally unnecessary. A huge part of this challenge is learning and growing as an individual. I've realized that silence is powerful. It proves one as thoughtful and reflective for being able to recognize when their speech is actually useful. An individual's ability to stay quiet in situations where temptation lies in blurting out unnecessary wanton words speaks volumes of their character.
Speak when your words are backed by a purpose. Hold back when you know that the syllables hold nothing of positive value. Our speech is a precious gift, one to be used with the utmost care. I hereby promise to, from here on out, use my voice to spread only love, positivity, and happiness. It will be hard, and I'll slip up once or twice, but I'll never stop trying.
Do you accept the challenge?