I don’t usually make resolutions for the New Year, maybe because it’s too easy to put off any big decision until December 31st. If I need to do something, I try to put it on my weekly to-do list so that it gets done. I also don’t usually tell you guys my plans to like, finally organize the bookshelf in the spare room or watch Felicity since it’s come up about sixteen times in the past month. These are things I can’t imagine you care to know.
However. I’ve found something I’d like to be held accountable to. It’s also something you might want to try as well. Because I think all of us, especially women and girls, will be better off with this resolution going forward.
I’m going to stop saying “sort of.”
I’m going to stop weakening my statements. Stop apologizing for the thing I’m saying while I’m saying it. Don’t let the listener have a chance to wonder if I might be completely full of shit.
I will stop deflating my statements with:
“A little like…”
“I mean in a sorta…”
This came from watching a serious amount of catch-up television this week while I am working on a new project. I don’t watch too much reality programming, but I like the “I Made This With My Hands So Now Please Vote For Me” shows. But when the designers/artists stand next to their works and defend them, I get itchy. Because they start saying “sort of.”
”I wanted to incorporate sort of the elements of nature and sort of make it all structural while still sort of kind of keeping it simple and beautiful. So I sort of used the lace here and then sort of filled in this part here while highlighting this other part here.”
Oh, my God, now I don’t want to vote for you! You sound like you hate what you’ve done and you’re afraid you’re about to get grounded for that dress!
When I hear “sort of” I cringe, because I remember how terrible I used to be at pitching. The first job I had where I had to pitch segment ideas in the room, I was so bad at it people did impressions of me pitching segment ideas.
They’d hunch down in their chairs, holding a notebook in a protective stance in front of their chest, squinch their faces as if someone has just smeared the table in fish guts, and then mumble, “Um, maybe in this one, he could sort of go to like, uh, like the store and um, go to like the express aisle and like, yell at the people who try to buy more than thirteen items or whatever Idon’tknowit’sstupidforgetit.”
And it was a spot-on impression.
Since then I’ve pitched hundreds of jokes and story lines and act breaks and episode ideas and show ideas and movie treatments and book proposals and I’ve had moments of inspired brilliance and long, quiet moments of tanking in front of so many people.
But I’ve gotten better. Much better. I no longer end my pitches with, “I don’t know, that’s probably stupid, forget it.”
However. When I’m on the spot and have to answer questions, or when I’m giving an interview, I find myself saying “sort of” right in the middle of my thought, and I hate it. I hate how it makes me sound. Like I don’t know what I mean. Like I’m already expecting the “no.”
Don Draper doesn’t say “sort of!”
…okay, so someone writes his words. You have a point. Okay. I got a better example.
Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t say “sort of” when she’s talking about how well Activia works on her colon.
And I don’t think she’s reading words off a page most of the time. I think she’s just stoked about probiotics. Doesn’t she seem confident and assured? Don’t you trust she’s pooping on the regular? Don’t you want to sound like you totally know when and where you poop and you got that shit on lock?
The secret: No more “sort of.” Also: no more ending your sentences like they are questions. Don’t ask permission for your thoughts! State them!
More declarative sentences in 2012!
WHO’S WITH ME? Oh, no! Now that I’m assured I’m yelling more! I’M YELLING WITH CONFIDENCE! I’M SORT OF NOT KIDDING!