Bet You Didn’t Mean to Be…But You Were

It blows my mind that the 26 letters of our alphabet are responsible for all the words we speak or write in the English language. How powerful those little letters are.

They can bring together and tear apart. They can start fights and end wars. With all that muscle, you would think it best that we use them wisely.

But…we’re human. So it’s a pretty safe bet we mess up on this front. A lot.

Sure, there are the boors in life who are really clueless when it comes to having their vocal cords rub together—like the time I was told, “Why don’t you have any kids yet? You better start soon—you’re not getting any younger.” At the time, I was in my early 30s.

I told the guy, who happened to be a teacher colleague of mine, “You know that really isn’t any of your business, right? And you better realize that when you say something like that to a woman, it’s possible that she could be struggling to get pregnant. How do you think that would make her feel?” His eyebrows were pretty much touching his receding hairline at that point, and I like to think that he never made the same kind of mistake again. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Don't be a boorish boar.
Don’t be a boorish boar.

While most of us have a bit more sensitivity than that particular example, we still have times where even in our subtlety, we might be guilty of being


I’ve had a couple of friends lose a noticeable amount of weight, but not because of any direct attempt to do so. They were going through significant life challenges that were painful and were indirectly dropping pounds because of it.

Time and again, though, I would see people come up to them and say, “You are looking GREAT! What’s your secret?!” or “I am so ENVIOUS—I wish I could lose weight like that!”

Now these people obviously didn’t know the truth and weren’t trying to be insensitive, but a change in approach would have been a great choice. In the past, while I didn’t necessarily say those kinds of things, my typical remark would have been, “You are looking fit these days…” But after seeing what my friends went through, I now say, “How are things going with you?” Because it really shouldn’t be about the weight, right?

It is a purposeful attempt to be more thoughtful and aware.

Because if that person truly feels like you care about their answer to “how are things going with you?” you just may learn that things aren’t that great after all. In fact, they could be very far from great.

We just don’t know the battles that others may be waging. And not everyone is going to tell us their story. But keeping in mind that there may be an untold story might help us to be more


And couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

2 thoughts on “Bet You Didn’t Mean to Be…But You Were

  1. I guess it’s the writer in me,
    but I am always trying to figure
    out the “story” of those that I
    meet. And usually, the story
    behind the person is much
    deeper and richer and complex
    than anyone could have guessed.
    Life can be joy-FULL, but it can
    also be pain-FULL, which you
    so beautifully point out, and yes,
    discretion can make the difference
    between lifting someone up or
    tearing them down.

    Thank you for the great reminder!

    xo Suzanne

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