Giving Up The F-Word
To my mother’s disappointment, the word “f**k” peppers my sentences. “F**k” is my favourite swear word because of its versatility. You can use it as a verb (My boyfriend and I f**ked), adverb (I swear too f**king much), adjective (When I speak, I f**king swear), or noun (I don’t give a f**k!!!).
Contrary to the idea that people who swear lack the vocabulary to express themselves, I swear because the extremity of the word captures my mood perfectly.
But because constantly dropping F-bombs is perceived to be uncouth and unladylike, I’ve decided to go on a week-long cuss word cleanse. Every “f**k” I utter would cost me 50 cents.
Here we f**king go.
They say bad habits are hard to break and swearing is no different. I did well for the first two hours but holding back the urge to say f**k was like putting off the need to pee: uncomfortable and unnecessary.
My motto for the week was “less words, less mistakes”. To distract myself from my linguistically oppressed state, I turned my focus to work.
At 11.10am, I messed up and said my first f**k of the day. I was editing an article and blurted, “hahaha f**k” when I read the witty caption.
I created a spreadsheet to accurately log the instances and reasons the F-word spilled from my lips.
The rest of the day didn’t go so well and the jar welcomed another six 50c coins.
My efforts to rein in my potty mouth made me feel like I was under constant supervision and I didn’t like it one bit. Curbing my desire to swear felt like a conscious effort to be politically correct, and being politically correct made me feel boring and fake.
What’s the point of being pleasant if your good-naturedness is forced? You aren’t a nice person then; you’re just pretending.
Still, better to be a nice person than an asshole. I put in only a dollar today.
The morning went swimmingly and swear-free until lunch. I said the F-word when I was telling Julia how much I liked throwing peanut shells and drinking one-for-one cocktails at No. 5 Emerald Hill. And again when I admonished Leah’s World Cup betting habits at Singapore Pools.
In the past three days, I noticed my usage of “f**k” came up a lot more during lunch conversations. Perhaps, it was the informal setting which made me more comfortable being myself. Or that incorporating swear words into daily speak has become the way twenty-something-year-olds communicate.
Whatever it was, it was f**king hard to stop.
Day 4 and 5
Day four and five passed without cussing. By now, I had grown comfortable with self-censorship and it produced a welcome but unintended side effect: I found myself markedly more patient.
Forcing myself to restructure my sentences caused me to consider how I used f**k as an intensifier—the ultimate ‘very’.
Just like how a language can cause its speakers to take on a certain persona, my constant swearing had caused my feelings of excitement, disgust, stress or worry to manifest more strongly.
The five days going without the F-word was honestly one of my most calm work weeks. I handled clients’ demands better, kept my tone more even when speaking, and found the words to my writing more easily.
With my heart calm and my mind collected, patience was no longer a virtue I had to work hard to achieve.
More importantly, I found that I liked myself a lot more because I was more kind and patient. This was a version of myself I didn’t have to forgive after 6.00pm because I behaved in a manner I found to be gracious.
Not Saying The F-Word
This year, my personal goals are to be more patient and less angry. And the first step is to control my extreme reactions to things.
I’ve found self-censorship to be a great coping mechanism for dealing with pressure or little annoyances. I used to get irrationally irritated whenever someone asked me a question while I was writing. But now my first thought is no longer “f**k” when faced with this distraction so I no longer get riled up.
Though my little experiment has concluded, I’ll continue making an effort to swear less. And hopefully, by the year’s end, I’ll have the patience of a saint.
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