Posted by: Morgan | October 21, 2010

Here’s Your Sign

Did you know that everyone has an invisible sign above their head that can be read by pretty much everyone else? These signs are either read by others when they first meet you or they let others know what unspoken phrase you put at the end of everything you say. Mine happens to be the latter.  Signs can say all sorts of things. For example, my husband’s is one that is read immediately when someone walks up to him and it says “I’m adorable and wonderful. Love me!”… and people normally do just that.  Our longtime friend, Brandon’s, is one that is read directly after everything he says, and it states “Do not believe a word that I say”, in very small print.  These signs help others around us know how to interact with us.  No one can truly decide what their sign says and, oftentimes, it takes others to tell someone what their sign actually tells the world.

Mine, as stated before, is read after almost everything I say and it reads “…f*** you”.  Just sit and imagine that at the end of everything I say.  Isn’t that just lovely?  Oh, no?  You aren’t just adoring my sign?  Well, me neither.  Many people (who apparently cannot read my sign, thankfully) seem shocked when they learn this. “You’re a perfectly wonderful person! So kind and caring! What would ever make someone think your sign said THAT?!”  To answer honestly, I have absolutely no idea.  But I do know that oftentimes people’s reactions to me, to the things I say that are either meant to be completely neutral or said with compassion and love, reinforce that my sign must read as such. (Note: It has been decided that I must have two signs. One is this sign and one is a sweet sign. Sadly, I cannot decide which one people read.)

It can be slightly humorous to think of going around the world with a big sign reading so. When someone at a grocery store gets miffed by something casual I say, I joke to myself that I must have turned on the neon light part of my sign.  I tend to take the fact that my sign screams something so harsh to the world well, but at times it can be very depressing.  Imagine with me, if you will, wanting to respond to someone who is hurting and yet pausing for fear that this sign will pop up unwanted at the end of what you say.  I have come across so many people within the areas of life I’m most passionate about, with pain and disillusionment at their current situation. Almost always I have an encouragement I’d like to share, and sometimes I truly do have a solution that would probably help them tremendously. And yet, almost always, I am walking away being told I’m judgement, hurtful, and completely arrogant.  While it is true that this typically happens more in online interactions, it has happens face-to-face with dear friends of mine, and in both scenarios I am left broken, wondering how my best intentions hurt those I want to help so badly.

Maybe it is just the words I use, you may suggest.  I suggest, after much self-review (which is actually easier with online interactions, as I can actually READ what I said), that it is not at all. Most of the time someone can (and a few times, actually has) said something exactly the same as I did or even more harshly and, without fail, is accepted graciously and even with appreciation. Topping even these situations are the ones when I make an off-hand comment that has nothing at all to do with those I am speaking to, either about life or about myself, and yet people end up hurt and offended.  Surely this can’t be true, you may say.  Shall I bring up a specific, albeit online, example?

Quite a few months ago, while in the early stages of pregnancy with Logan, I rewatched the video of Emma’s birth.  I got so excited about having another natural, home birth and decided to post in my Facebook status along those lines. As I was typing, I also added in something about I couldn’t imagine going to a hospital to birth. I believe the phrase “I don’t do other natural things in a hospital, why would I birth there?” made it onto the end of the status.  I, of course, meant no offense to anyone by anything in the status. In fact, I didn’t even think that I was even addressing others. Personally, *I* was excited about birthing at home and *I* couldn’t imagine being at a hospital for labor and birth.  Not only did I bother some people by this comment, but this actually generated more than 30 comments from very offended mothers.  I was accused of judging those who birth in hospitals, being unsupportive of other people’s personal decisions, pushing my values on everyone else, and not understanding that sometimes women needed to be in a hospital setting for safe birth.  I even offended one of my closest and longest known friends to such an extent that she refused to speak to me for three days.  I was blown away.

Although in theory I can see where someone would say “Morgan, I understand that you’re just excited about your birth and you really can’t imagine yourself birthing in a hospital, do you realize that the wording in that last phrase seems a little off?”, I still do not truly understand how I so completely offended so many by that little status.  Perhaps I can even understand offending those who don’t know me well, but happen to be ‘friends’ with me on Facebook.  But how I offended some people who know me SO well and know that I don’t ever feel ANY of those accusations towards others ever is completely beyond me.  And only possible if I truly was wearing my bright, flashing sign above my head.

While I sit here typing this post, with the intent to laugh at myself and have others laugh with me, I am suddenly aware that this is probably going to offend people. Not because I think it’s offensive, but because that would just be ironic. Write a post about how I never mean to offend but end up doing so anyway, and in the process offend even more people. I desperately hope not, and if you are one of the offended, please try not to be, because this is meant to bring a smile to your face, not make you sad. And maybe encourage you to find out what your sign says. Don’t be scared! It can’t be any worse than mine…

 

 

PS… I don’t need anyone coming up with ideas of why I am seemingly judgmental, arrogant, or why people read this sign after everything I say. This post was not created so everyone could have a turn at ‘Let’s Tell Morgan About That Time She Made Me Feel Like Crap’. I would hope that no one would ever have a reason to say that, but I’m also not opening up myself for that. Enjoy this post as a young woman laughing at herself and trying to grow with a smile on her face. Thanks in advance.

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Responses

  1. Sometimes I think we could combine our personalities and come up with a really nicely balanced person… haha!
    I think online is especially hard because there is no tone included in the info presented… even over the phone is harder than in person! I think having a conversation in person is so much different than any other form of communication and is what makes long distance friendships and relationships so much more challenging – no facial expression, you can’t DO stuff together for shared experience, no hugs or other physical touch cues that help clue someone into the intent of whatever statement. You know? Man, those years that Jesse and I were long distance were SO HARD for that reason! We have great communication from it, I think, but it was hard in the interim.
    Anyway, you are loved and you are sweet. I have known you long enough to understand both your signs I think, and I still love you and value our friendship a lot. I know I have two signs too (don’t we all, really, when you know another person well enough?) and am glad you are still my friend even though I’m sure you’ve seen both of mine too. 🙂

  2. Haha! I definitely sometimes feel like I have a sign over my head that says “please be mean to me, and say loads of hurtful, backhanded things”. Or maybe a sign that I didn’t realize I might have that says “I am so not content with my life”. I’m not sure, but I’ve definitely felt that people have read one sign or the other when I thought I was saying either “please discuss this with me because I’m bored” or “I’m having a bad day, and it sucks”. I totally can understand how you feel when you make a seemingly innocent status or note or post (whatever) and all of a sudden your a bad person!
    I don’t remember the status you referenced, and I certainly hope I wasn’t one who commented with anything hurtful. I do know there are times when I’ve taken something you said personally when it clearly wasn’t meant to be personally at all, and that isn’t your problem, its mine.

    Anyway, I totally get it.

    Sarah W.

  3. I can see both of your signs, but only because I know you well enough and we hit the same wavelength in so many areas. I know how that first sign comes across, because I think I wear a similar one, though I’d always phrased mine something akin to, “No really, I DID just say that.” you know, the sort where, when you are so used to your own way of thinking that you forget that you are actually riding upstream in a kayak…and you pass a barge of people going downstream and casually mention how much you love kayaking. Their mouths fall open, and in my case, maybe it’s my expression or the set of my jaw, they tend to fall into broken, tittering, laughter.

    Unfortunately for the world in general, when my sign turns on and I see the neon reflected in the eyes of my onlookers, I switch into “play dumb” mode. This mode is apparently very believable regardless of how well you know me because I used it so much on my immediate family growing up, it took many years to convince them I wasn’t a closet airhead. It’s called my “I thought you knew” sign. Nobody can walk away from that one offended because they then think I’m just the village idiot. My husband HATES, HATES! thatt sign. he forbad me to use it in his presence and has intimated that he never wants to hear me displaying it, at my own peril. Something about, “I didn’t marry a clueless airhead, and I don’t want anyone thinking I did, no matter how easy it would be for you to do!” or something like that.

    I really think that’s what it is, though, going back: being so accustomed to an uncommon way of thinking that you can’t even forsee how it might rub wrong. My new fall-to method to erase the shocked look before it comes to offense is to make it a stand up comedy. I turn self-deprecating, humorously so, easily. I’ve learned that I can discuss almost anything if I keep my audience in stitches, and so I do. They go away, wiping tears of mirth from their eyes thinking, “she’s inSANE!” But, then they laugh it off. Somehow, my husband doesn’t mind my insulting myself as a comedy act??? But, then again, my favorite thing is to amuse a crowd…maybe that’s why I picked a rather unconventional lifestyle???


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