The Social Faux Pas You Probably Never Thought About

It may come across as a surprise to most of you that one of the best feelings I ever had was when I walked into Momma Goldberg’s recently and the guy at the register asked me if I wanted a cold beer. Was it because I wanted a cold beer? No, because I don’t drink. Was it because he was cute? No, but he was kind of cute. Why was that such a good feeling? Because he recognized that I was at least 21, which happened to be exactly how old I was at the time. Points for that guy!

Sometimes people make statements or ask questions that are somehow meant to be friendly conversation makers or be remotely funny in some way, but they aren’t. And I think if people actually thought about what they were saying, a lot of things wouldn’t be said to me.

When you see someone who is overweight, do you tell them just how fat you think they are? Just so you all know, Microsoft Word does not even recognize the word “fat” as an acceptable word option for the way I just used it in the previous sentence. Do you go around asking people where they go and shop for their clothes because you can’t imagine where they could find clothes that massive? Do you tell them they need to buy a treadmill? Do you tell them they wouldn’t be able to have healthy children because of their size? Do you tell them they eat like a mammoth? Do you do all of this without even bothering to find out who they are in the first place? Do you even know whether they have brought this upon themselves or if they have an actual medical condition, take a medicine, or deal with life stresses that create their situation?

So if you said yes to that, do you also walk through the hall at a hospital where chemo patients are getting their treatments and point and yell at them, “Baldies, baldies!”?

Do you also openly tell people if you think they’re butt ugly and will never get married?

I hope not. But if you do any of those things, it doesn’t matter if you say you’re “kidding” or not…you’re a jerk for saying such things.

Many times, when I express my distaste for people’s inconsiderate remarks, people misunderstand my hurt feelings as sensitivity to being who/how I am. Not so at all. I don’t know any differently, so I’m perfectly fine with who I am and how tall I am. It gets on my nerves that it seems to be such a big deal to everyone else. My stature would absolutely NOT be an issue at all if other people didn’t make it a big deal…because it is not a big deal to me. So my frustration is not with myself. It’s that I have no idea how to handle such blatantly disrespectful comments from people I don’t even know at completely random times. It’s basically the same thing as this:

Sometimes friends will say, “Well, they’re just not thinking about what they’re saying.” Yeah, I know that. That’s what the problem is. They’re supposed to…they’re adults, for crying out loud!

So, Rule Number 1: Consider your words before you speak them. And, don’t preface what you think might be funny with, “No offense, but…”

If you think it could be offensive, you won’t say it. Lying about it just makes you twice the jerk.

Rule Number 2: If you’re going to ask a question, expect to get the real answer.

“Like a maniac who shoots fiery darts and deadly arrows—that’s what someone is like who lies to his neighbor and then says, ‘I was only joking, wasn’t I?’” Proverbs 26:18-19

Here are a few things I’ve been told in the past few years in connection with my small stature:

“And now you’re in sixth grade, so that’s four years, right?” (I was a college freshman at the time, calculating how many years I had played piano to someone who had overheard me playing, someone I didn’t even know)

“What grade are you in? You look like a kid!”

“What does Auburn University offer to little girls?”

“You’re so small, you don’t need but half an office space.”

The Reality…just a few little fun facts about me:

I am 22 years old.

I have played the piano for as long as eighth graders have been alive.

In case you’ve ever asked, yes…I hit puberty. A WHOLE DECADE ago. If I got raped, I could actually have a real baby. I am capable of bringing a human being into this world with my body (the body that belongs to me that apparently looks like a kid). R-e-s-p-e-c-t.

I have a Bachelor’s degree.

I graduated from Auburn (University) a year ago.

While I was in college, I walked almost everywhere I went, even if I didn’t have to, while carrying around a backpack that was often about half my own body weight. Can you do that?

I also walked as quickly as everyone else, which meant I walked twice or triply as much as everyone else.

I did well in college. A lot of people don’t, and most of the ones I knew who didn’t were older than me.

I searched for and found my purpose while in college. A lot of people don’t do that…ever.

Mentally and emotionally, I grew up while in college. A lot of people don’t do that either.

Through it all, I was a mistake maker, and still am. That’s one aspect of life no one is exempt from.

I live on my own now.

I’m old enough to get a hotel room.

I think about things like buying a house within the next few years, or saving for retirement.

I work 8-5 at a real job.

For my real job, I wear clothes that I pick out all by myself every morning—clothes that I bought when shopping all by myself in the petite section at a nice department store, usually in a mall. Obviously, I didn’t get lost, and if I did, well…looking like a minor isn’t enough to make me one.

If I went missing, it would take a full 24 hours for me to officially become a “missing person,” and even then, finding me would not be priority to finding someone five+ years younger than me… even if a perpetrator had thought I was a child and attempted to do the same things to me as he would have done to a younger person.

If I ever had to go to court for wrongdoing, I would be tried as an adult, no exception. Looks mean nothing in the courts, folks.

I pay for all but about two bills with the money that I make (money that is made by me), and I will soon be paying for those other two as well. That money (that I make) goes into a checking account that is in my name, and I can transfer that money into a savings account that is also in my name. I can also write checks! Yipee! I can swipe a debit card and credit card that have my name on them as well.

I drive. I drive myself to work every day. I probably drive more responsibly than many people my age. I can even drive halfway across the country by myself if I want to (and I am going to soon).

I know how to check the oil in my car and add more to it if I need to. I can also change the headlights in my car (and probably more easily than anyone else since my hands are so small)…yeah, be jealous.

I am old enough to have a boyfriend who is in his 30s.

Sometimes men in their 30s are more attracted to me than guys my own age because they, like me, have matured enough to create standards for themselves higher than getting wasted and getting some.

About half of my friends are married now…and have kids.

I cook, clean, do laundry, and own and care for a pet all by myself.

I can do a variety of home repairs on my own. Do you know how to change a door knob or put a door back on its hinges? I do! My next handywoman project is to create an outdoor wheelchair ramp for a friend so she can come into my house (the house that I live in by myself).

I’m scared of bees and wasps and other various creatures that can sting or bite, but I stay pretty sane otherwise. The other day, I wanted Mayfield’s Brown Cow ice cream really bad, so I went to Publix and got it because I could. And then I had it for supper because I could. I still squeal sometimes when I’m excited about things. Even after all these years, nothing gets me going like some good old slapstick comedy. I love animated kids’ films. And I still think it would be cool to be a mermaid. Or a dolphin.

Though I am in so many ways still a kid at heart, I am a woman—a 22-year-old woman—and I have to deal with woman things. I carry adult responsibilities, have adult problems, and make adult choices. And I appreciate when people recognize and encourage me during this time of my life—a time when I have to make hard decisions, face scary things on my own, and deal with the consequences that arise from all of it.

The last thing I need is for someone to belittle or completely disregard all of these facts about me simply because of my appearance. If you must say something about my appearance, I’d rather you simply say, “Wow, you’re pretty short,” and leave it at that, even though I’ve heard that a million and five times… and kind of figured it out myself before anyone ever said it the first time.

When I’m wearing my grown up clothes, grown up shoes, carrying my grown up purse that contains grown up things in it, it’s enough of an insult for someone to tell me I look like a sixth grader to them, even when I’ve just told them I’m an adult. But for them to continue talking to me in that way, as if I actually am a sixth grader…that’s pretty condescending. Have a little respect, people. Quit being jerks.


So…you’re looking for a roommate.

Some of you may be reaching that point in your life where you are about to head off to college! Or maybe you’re just a single girl or guy who needs a cut in your expenses. So… you’re looking for a roommate.

There are lot of things to learn from having roommates. A lot of things can happen while living with someone else. To name a few:

You can luck up and turn into best friends with your roomie!

You can think you lucked up and turned into best friends with your roomie, only to find out later that you are WRONG. They actually hate you.

You can have a social life because of your roommate… Yay!

You can save money because of your roommate.

You can blow money because of your roommate.

You can have more fun because of your roommate!

You can be miserable because of your roommate.

You can even be abused by your roommate–emotionally and physically.

As a preface to the things I am about to say, I acknowledge that not everything I am communicating in this message is from my own experience, but these are things that come from my insight of a combination of my own and others’ experiences.


You’ve all probably heard, “Don’t live with your best friend,” or other things along that line, and that can often be true. But the real truth behind that is not that your best friend is lying to you…it’s that your best friend CAN be lying to you about who they are. A truer statement is, “You never know what someone is like until you live with them.”

Sometimes people have underlying issues in their lives that they hide very easily in public and even from their very best friends, but can’t cover up so well behind closed doors. These issues could be insecurities, buried feelings from the past, character flaws, physical or mental illnesses, or even just plain selfishness.

Unfortunately, people don’t really like to tell you about their problems (their REAL problems) at all, and especially before living with you if they’re really wanting a roommate. So things like… being “Type A”/narcissistic, having clinical depression, having regular hallucinations that aliens are abducting them and stealing their organs, exerting schizophrenic behavior, whispering to their grandma… who is dead, having bipolar disorder, having bouts of hysteria, etc.–these are the kinds of things people probably don’t even want to admit to/face for themselves, much less tell you about. So, if you wind up living with someone who has serious issues, you won’t know it until you see it and have to deal with it directly, possibly while traumatized.

So, you could end up rooming with someone who regularly makes you paranoid that they have slashed their wrists and are soaking to death in the bathtub while cursing at the aliens. But ideally, your roommate will be a stable person like you and only carry minor annoyances, like not washing the dishes as often as you or forgetting to carry out the trash. Perhaps it could help to get to know people who are friends with that person before living with them to get an idea of what others know about them, but all you can really do is just pray for the best situation.

You may be in college or in your early career stage. You might be learning a lot about chemistry, physics, computers, and writing papers. You might be learning the ropes of business management, social networking, developing a regular routine again, handling new bills. You might also learn some things about growing up, being an adult, entering the “real world.” Along with that kind of learning, you might gain some supplemental insight that everyone doesn’t traverse that path the same way and at the same time, or even with anyone at all. Everyone is different, everyone grows up differently, everyone doesn’t grow up at the same time. Sometimes, people don’t grow up at all. Sometimes, you are faster at it than others. Sometimes they are faster than you. You just have to figure out how to deal with those who “just ain’t got it” yet.

Above all, in your journey through young adulthood, you should be learning a lot about yourself. Even in times of crises, you can discover some of the most important things about yourself… how much time you need to study for that stupid biology test, HOW to even study for that stupid biology test, what to wear on a rainy day in Auburn, Alabama, what keeps you awake (legally) for more than 24 hours, what keeps you going when you’re having a bad day, what kinds of friends you want, what kinds of behavior you will tolerate people dishing at you.

You are now in charge of yourself, which can be an achievement or an obstacle in your path of growing up, depending on your background and maturity level. Having a roommate is just another contribution to your pile of experiences (lessons) to learn from.

Now, I’m no married woman, but I’m pretty sure that being married and being someone’s roommate are TOTALLY different things (thank goodness). It seems that probably the main difference between living with someone and living with someone you are married to is that when you are married to someone, you share the same life–you are still two different people, but you live together in a more complete sense. A roommate is someone you share a dwelling place with–someone you may or may not have a personal connection to. They have their life, and you have yours. They have their schedules, and you have yours. They have their friends, and you have yours. They have their food, and you have yours. They have their clothes, and you have yours. They have their money, and you have yours. They have their methods of doing things around the house, and you have yours. They have their….okay, you get it. But a lot of people don’t get that. (Those are the people who shouldn’t live with anyone… But they usually do.)

So, what I’m trying to say is, I hope your roommate experiences have been/are/will be great, even if they are not particularly pleasant. If you end up with the most miserable person–someone who legitimately loathes your existence, someone who insists on being angry about everything they can conjure up to be angry about, someone who wants to manipulate you for any reason, someone who refuses to work out problems unless it allows them to scream at you or feel superior to you, someone who pretends to be your friend and then stonewalls you at the first sign of a disagreement, etc.–don’t despair (easier said than done). Ride out things as much as you can, but learn yourself. Know your boundaries, and respect them. Others–the people who truly care about you and respect you–will follow suit. If your roommate is not one of those people who can respect you and your boundaries, get out if and when you can. Get out of that living situation, and get out of whatever relationship you have with that person because it is simply destructive and unhealthy. Even if you feel like a jerk initially, you won’t regret making that decision.

In a nutshell, those are my tips on establishing relationships in general, but it is especially useful for determining what you want/need in a living situation because living with someone can have a huge impact on your emotional and physical well-being, perhaps even more so than your closest friendships.

Extra Important Tip: If you are concerned about a situation to the point that you worry a person may physically harm you, and if you are taking physical precautions around that person (whether it is a male or female) you need to sever that relationship immediately. A person is not your friend if he or she gives you a reason to feel unsafe around them, emotionally or physically. Get out. And maybe even get help.

“Manner Book: The Big Brown Bear”(?)… Complete with unintentionally creepy illustrations

Tonight I came home to my parents’ house just in time for a bed time story…

a story I wrote when I was about eight or nine years old.

[Entering serious thinking mode for a moment]…

I apparently wrote this and had given it to my grandmother. She passed away when I was fifteen, and after seven years, our family has now decided to sell her place. So, we have been cleaning out her house and gathering back the many little things we had given to her over the years. The following story, along with another story and a collection of poetry I had written at that same age, was found in her quilting patterns… My grandmother’s most well-known gift and hobby was quilting. Sure, she was a “pack rat,” but she knew where everything was because she put everything where it was for a reason. Even as a grown up, professional writer now, I can’t even begin to describe the significance of knowing that my gifts to my grandmother were that special to her.

…[Exiting serious thinking mode]

I vaguely remember drawing the super creepy bear on the cover, but I don’t remember anything else about this. I did a bunch of Google searches to see if this was just my copying an existing children’s story, maybe with my own twist to it, but no…nothing quite like this out there. I was just one super weird kid with a big imagination. Enjoy!

Cover Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6The end. :)