Are You Guilty?

Let’s decide. In the first month of 2020 I heard two words I didn’t realize were ‘real’ words. From time to time we all add prefixes or suffixes to familiar words to make the meanings fit our purposes exactly with a bit of humor or sarcasm.

That’s what I thought was happening when I heard ‘otherizing‘ on a radio program and read ‘awfulizing‘ in a magazine article. Ahh! Clever! I understood the intended meaning, I thought. Just to make sure, though, because I am a fan of dictionaries, I looked them up intending to find only ‘other’ and ‘awful’ in the entries. I was wrong.

OTHERIZING is a term for recognizing others as different and alien if they are not like us. It is not a valued practice if it leads to condescension, discrimination or separation. Children don’t otherize; it seems to be a learned habit. We may hear it more in these chaotic times. It has been around for a century or so but its use has escalated since 2010.

I am guilty of otherizing the opposite sex; males generally use an operating system that females view as different for sure, and nonsensical to boot. (Speaking in generalities here based on my own experiences. We all know they don’t ask for directions, for example). I have friends who don’t drink wine or don’t like chocolate or hate cats. Gasp!

That there are others who share different views and passions, though, who can envision life differently than I do, for that I am grateful. How much more interesting life is because there are others around not like me!

AWFULIZING is also an authentic word. I am unrealistically optimistic, so I felt sure I this didn’t fit me. It’s a word that means thinking the worst that could possibly happen in a given scenario. Wait, in that case, yes, I do awfulized when contemplating an unusual activity or move.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Haven’t we all asked that? I might hear a ‘no’ and if that doesn’t alter my world, I would go ahead and ask. That happens in the workplace regarding raises, days off, modifications to procedures, promotions, etc. I awfulize in my head way more than most know, but once I settle these debates – I might get laughed at, they may not like me, I might get hurt, I might make a fool of myself, I might be throwing my money away – I go ahead. Nothing is gained without risk. Tweenagers and adolescents are pros at awfulizing, and drama reigns.

We seenagers ( those who have been around long enough to have seen, heard and done a lot) generally care less what others think. Safety and health and satisfying connections become the priorities. Awfulizing might serve a valid purpose in imagining situations in a more realistic, positive way, thereby encouraging us to move forward. Not a bad habit to acquire in this new decade.

About Teresa Pearson Lee

Retired after 33 years of teaching English and French (one year in private school in Memphis, TN and the rest in public school in Doniphan, MO. Enjoying new adventures - all those things I put off for lack of time, energy, now I can try them! Pottery, writing, traveling, camping, kayaking, dancing, listening to some of the best live music ever, and making lively new friendships. All christened with an appreciation for great red wine! Created and operated KC's on the Current, then sold it and managed it for new owners. You might still find me at the reservation desk when spring rolls around. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO near The Hill. Though a transplant to Southeast Missouri, still a city gal at the core with a deep love of the natural resources in these Ozark foothills. Currently I am a content coordinator for Poplar Bluff Living Magazine and a columnist/stringer for the local weekly The Prospect News. My rescue Siamese helps with most of the proofreading; he has a great ear. I relish the solitude easily had in the Mark Twain Forest but thoroughly enjoy lively outings for music, wine, conversation close to home or in my beloved hometown. Technology is my greatest challenge but so worth the shared connections. There may be a need for solitude but there is little loneliness. The material in this blog written by Teresa Lee is her property and cannot be used without express written consent to do so.
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