Adult-ing 101: Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said yes when you really meant no. *surveys imaginary crowd and nods at the realization that everyone has a hand up* Keep those hands up. Raise your other hand if you’ve ever said no, when what you really meant was yes. *has both hands up* Now, if you’ve ever been given a gift that you didn’t like but forced a smile and said, “Thank you! I love it!” then you can’t put your hands down. Not until you finish reading this thing through.


Just kidding! Put them down, Silly!

Some people mistake us YAfor a rude, disrespectful heard, with a knack for questioning authority and flaunting our untamable spirits  by saying whatever it is that’s on our minds–as we “call it as it is”.

But let’s face it. The truth is, we struggle with honesty. Though not in the same context as when we were kids (for example: Beatrice, did you eat the cookies in the jar? or Did you just hit your brother?), we still have a hard time telling the truth.

Here are a few scenarios that show how we say one thing, when we really mean another:

Friend 1: Hey! How are ya?

Friend 2: Aw, I’m great! How bout you?

What Friend 2 actually meant: Not so great…I had a tough week.

Person 1: Wanna hang out one time if you’re free?

Person 2: Oh, um…sure, I guess. I’ve been pretty busy though. But why not?

What Person 2 actually meant: Listen, the truth is, I don’t like you. You kinda creep me out. So could you just…GET OUT OF MY FACE?!

(Chat on the phone)

You: LOL

What you actually meant: I don’t know what else to say, and I don’t wanna just leave you hanging in awkward silence.

Relative 1: How do I look?

Relative 2: Oh, you look gorgeous!  

What Relative 2 actually meant: You look like a moose. A really messed up moose.

Relative 1: Aw, really?

Relative 2: Yes!

What Relative 2 actually meant: No.

I’m betting that all of us have been guilty of this at least a hundred times in our lives. Why? Why don’t we say what we want to say? Here are some explanations I came up with:

1.)  We “don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Probably the number one reason as to why we don’t always speak our minds, is because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We’ve been through enough to understand that the truth can hurt. Like crazy. And we don’t want people feeling bad because of something we said.

2.) Some people don’t know how to put what they’re feeling into words. 

Ever had that one friend who looks mad about fifty percent of the time? Well, I’m guessing it’s because they don’t put what they’re feeling into words enough. They probably don’t know how to express what’s going on inside them. They don’t know how to say, “I feel like crap!”

It’s either that or they were born with RBF (don’t know what RBF is? Read about it on CNN. A lot of people unknowingly suffer from it, so it’s good to read up on this particular topic).

3.) It takes time.

I have a thirteen year old brother, and sometimes, he hits me with questions like, “Bey, what does this word mean?” And for some reason, he almost always asks when I’m busy. So I’ll be like, “Um…I don’t know, why don’t you google it?”

For the record, I have defined words for him, but come on. He’s thirteen. He’s old enough to search the internet for words he’s not sure how to spell. 

Anyway, my point is, putting things into words takes time. It’s easier to say “I’m okay,” than it is to explain that you are, in fact, not okay, because so and so said this, which made you feel upset, and to top things off, you didn’t make the cut for that audition.

4.) Sometimes, we don’t know what we “mean”.

This kinda ties in with my first point. Sometimes, we don’t know what we’re feeling. I used to wonder why I procrastinate so much. Even if I hated the stress my bad habit  caused me, whenever I had the chance to not procrastinate, I wouldn’t take it. And I didn’t know why. Each time, I told myself, “Next time…” or “I won’t ever do that again…” but I would never get around to doing it. That was until I read an article I found that called procrastination the fear of action. 

That’s when I realized I wasn’t just disorganized. I wasn’t irresponsible (I mean, sure, I was, but that wasn’t the main root of “whatever” it was I was feeling). I was afraid.

That’s why it’s good to be self-aware. When you know exactly what’s going on with yourself, it’s easier to put what you’re feeling into words, and in doing so, you say what you mean.

5.) It’s risky.

My fifth and final point is that saying what you mean can be risky. Who wants to say “I love you,” knowing there’s a chance you’re not going to hear “I love you” back? Who wants to step out of their comfort zone and tell someone you love that you hate it when they do whatever it is they do that gets under your skin?

There’s something about honesty that makes us feel vulnerable. A lot of people think that being vulnerable makes them weak, and therefore it’s wrong. But I think it’s the exact opposite. In a world where so many hearts are closed, willfully kept shut because people are scared of getting hurt, it takes a strong person to open up and let the truth loose. So maybe that “vulnerable” feeling we get when we speak from the heart, is just us feeling liberated from the dishonesty we’ve wrapped ourselves in for so long. Maybe it’s just us feeling free. From the lies we tell not only our friends and families, but ourselves.

Wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t easy. It’s risky. I think most of the time, we know exactly what we want to say…we’re just too scared to say it.

So how about let’s be the strong ones? The ones who take the risk to say what’s on our minds. The ones who aren’t afraid to call things as they are. And in doing so, we’ll be the ones who illuminate the world in all its darkness.


Take Ellie Goulding’s words and light up something no one can put out.

We’re YAs.  It’s time we stepped out of the shadows of the world’s misconceptions about us…and show them who we really are. By saying what we mean. And meaning what we say.


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