As women of color, it can often feel like we do not belong in many spaces that we occupy. Whether that be the office, in class, or even among friends. As someone who is often the minority in the group, I do find myself shrinking myself so as to make others more comfortable. A habit I picked from feeling like I didn’t belong somewhere or was not good enough. However, the more I grow into the woman I want to be. I realize that in order to own my place, I need to speak up, and make no apologies for my thoughts, ideas or voice. Which is why I have started to cut down on or completely cut out certain phrases. Here are just some things that I believe we as women of color should say less of;
- “This is probably a bad idea but….” : Starting any sentence with ‘this is a bad idea’ automatically invalidates your idea. I know that often in meetings and even in classrooms I would answer questions by starting with this phrase. This was in part because I wanted to lessen the blow if my idea was indeed bad. But also because I have been taught and conditioned by society and y surroundings that my ideas and voice are of little to no value. So next time you feel yourself starting a sentence with this phrase, take a breathe and just say what it is you want to say.
- “So and so said or suggested…”; I am not sure if I am the only one who does this but when ever I want to put a point across I always attribute said point or thought to someone else. In part again due to the fact that I think that if people hear that the idea is from me, they will find it less useful or valuable.
- “Does this make sense?”: As someone who often feels like they don’t say or do the right things, I often follow my thoughts with this one liner. In part because I get anxious when after sharing my thoughts or concerns or even ideas, no one responds immediately and so I feel the need to just make sure that I wasn’t a bumbling idiot. Whilst in some settings you can see when something went above peoples heads, more often than not everyone understood and is just processing. Also those who do not understand will let you know.
- “I feel like”: Another common phrase I hear and use often is the one ‘I feel like’. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the actual phrase when used to describe your emotions or even what kind of movie or food you want to eat. Using “I feel like” in meetings or important settings gives the impression that you are unsure of what you are saying. Like in class when the professor asks what someone thinks of something and you start off responding with “I feel like the movie does not adequately capture the spirit of the characters”. Now take away ‘I feel like’ and just say ‘The movie does not adequately capture the spirit of the characters.”. The second line is more sure and less flighty whilst getting to the answer without feeling the need to preface something.
What are some words or phrases you say often that you are trying to change?