Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, and gossip.
I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I’d like to say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not. Not even a little.
I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. It just was.
But then one day someone finally called me on my shit.
Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and another girl had gone a double date – their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up.” The next morning at school I spread the word in the usual fashion. (It didn’t take a lot of effort, I went to a very crowded high school of bored kids in a small Alaskan city. Word got around fast.)
Turns out, they did not “hook up” as it were. Things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. So everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “Yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!” When indeed, he had not.
He came up to me in the hallway that day and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.
I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty thing, and it was the first time I really realized it was a shitty thing to do.
I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit, but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.
Why was I posturing like that? Fucking fucks, I thought I lost you. (Clingy buggers.)
So the next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…but then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather or my lunch. (Burrito, B-, overnuked.) But behaving in a small-minded manner like this just isn’t worth the squeeze.