Once upon a time, I was vehemently opposed to swearing. When others dropped an expletive, you could see me physically recoil.
I hated the power those words held just as much as I hated the type of person to use them casually. Years of my life were spent humming over controversial song lyrics and not so subtly mentioning how “uneducated” my friends sounded when they dropped the f-bomb.
Today, I rarely get through a conversation without using some crude language, family and business excluded.
There wasn’t a definitive point where my views changed. No realization snapped me to where I am now, but instead a gradual understanding that I was being a hypocrite. Raised to believe cursing was immoral, I held onto my views without questions.
It took me 19 years to understand that I was to blame for the evil of swearing.
If even the occasional expletive is such a harmful weapon, how do groups who curse stand to be around each other? Why do some communities frown on speech that others rely on so heavily?
In my years of self-censorship, it never once occurred to me that I was responsible for the effect that swearing had on me. I was giving these words the awful power they held over me; empowering them by restricting their use.
Once I accepted this, some non-PG language found its way into my vocabulary. A few mildly offensive terms slipped into conversation in a hushed tone. I felt liberated to have reclaimed a once-volatile aspect of communication as my own.
So liberating that I began swearing more often than I should have. It was innocent at first.
Friends would tease my newfound sailor’s mouth and I was still self-conscious about it. Once the novelty wore off, I started to unconsciously drop expletives in every sentence.
This continued until a friend mentioned how my recent change in diction had made her feel uncomfortable. She only meant for me to tone down my swearing, but her request hit me like a truck. I had changed my opinion of foul language, but there were still many in the same position I was originally in. I had become what my past self hated.
Roping in my swearing required a conscious effort at first but did happen over time. Instead of every other adjective being adult language, cursing became an infrequent act. Forcing myself to monitor what comes out of my mouth also taught me a valuable lesson about the power of words.
I noticed how I naturally tune out someone who rambles, but the input from someone quiet always garnered my attention. This was because, as I came to find out, every word has value, swear words included.
When someone does nothing but talk all the time, they become the boy who cried wolf. Their words are so frequent that none of them have any real weight. When a real wolf is prowling about their flock of sheep, when the situation arises that they need to be heard, anything they say is treated as background noise.
The same rule applies to foul language. If every other word would make an old lady faint, they become lingual filler with no meaning. On the other hand, holding yourself above their use earns you nothing but undue stress.
Words are a powerful set of tools to influence the world around you. It would be silly to deprive yourself of any of them, and equally as pointless to strip them of their potency. Don’t be afraid of the weapons at your disposal. With proper use, they can turn you into a badass.