Sometimes I wish I could take words back. But no matter how much I try and grab at them, it is a hopeless cause. The words have crystallized, changing from mere thought to reality. Sometimes, I can feel it in the air. The awkwardness that follows wrong words is unmistakable. The sudden silence. The desperation to fill the emptiness with anything else at all. For me, it has always seemed strange that everyone complains about the difficulty of writing essays when speaking is exponentially more difficult. At least, when you are writing, there is a way to erase the offending words from existence. It allows for an infinite amount of time to search for the right phrase, for the perfect way to express one’s true feelings. I am always in a hurry when I am speaking with someone else. I worry that the other person, whether they are sitting across the table or listening on the phone thousands of miles away will lose interest before the sentence can stumble its way out of my mouth. Even then, someone might misunderstand my meaning. So, I speak out of fear.
Maybe that is why there are so many useless words cluttering our ears and minds. Instinctively, we want to communicate, yet surmounting the barrier efficiently is still an unsolved puzzle. Conversations happen every second, but so many are fleeting and forgettable. It is good that there is still a way to record our thoughts so that we may return to them and change them. That is why I continue to write. Not just to create flowery sentences or to impress others, but to clear my mind, to give it a clean start every week. I give my ideas permanence instead of just letting them flow out of my mouth. I pick words carefully so that they may carry my thoughts outside of myself. Speaking and writing are our tools, but we don’t often treat them that way. We replace words with emojis, limit them to 140 characters, skim over words, instead of reading more carefully. We do this to our detriment, for these are the only pathways to understanding that we have. Otherwise, we are doomed to be isolated forever, stuck in the same thoughts that we have always had.
The threat has only grown larger as time has gone on. We can message people at the touch of a button. We order pizza and stay in our respective homes instead of going out to eat. Conversations grow ever shorter and less meaningful. Sometimes, I believe in it too. I wish that I could take all my words back and stay silent. But the words are not the problem. It is how we are using them. We should not be speaking or writing out of fear, but out of necessity. Then, we trust that people are actually listening.