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.