Have you ever seen something and you wish you could have said something – but you didn’t? Has something ever happened to you and you never said anything about it – but you should have?
I am writing this blog from a vantage point of 4 in the morning and a day after I drink all night with my friends. You see, I always tend to feel so low after drinking. That’s why just a few minutes ago, I found out this thing called “hangxiety.” It is said that although people generally drink alcohol to lift their spirits, having too many drinks can leave us stressed, worried, or plagued with guilt. So I guess this is just all the hangxiety that is rushing through me.
Moving forward, let me share something that I learned from Tumblr many moons ago. The term l’esprit de l’escalier or ‘staircase wit’ refers to opinions and ideas that we express with clear, polished pithiness – and which always occur to us too late. It’s that feeling you get when you leave a conversation and think of all the things you should have said. In addition, there is no word in the English language for this.
As a writer myself, I am frequently afflicted with esprit de l’escalier.
But also as a writer, I’ve learned about how writing about burdensome experiences can help me take back my power.
Like this one time from years ago, I was in a table with the people I used to work with. We were all having a chill time. Out of nowhere one of my ‘straight’ colleagues shared his thoughts about the LGBT people. Of course, as a gay boy in the table, he asked for my thoughts as well. It was a healthy debate/conversation but you know those kinds of moments when somebody started the conversation with ‘no offense’ but you know deep down that you are about to get offended?
There was also this one time when I was drinking. I was with my friends and we got into a conversation talking about the same topic. But this time about transgender people, which I’m very passionate about because I am always fighting for equality. I couldn’t really remember or point out the whole context of that conversation. But even though I was super drunk, I knew I was hurting inside. Because nevertheless if it is really a safe learning environment for both parties, words are painful when they are painful.
While this friend was confidently talking about his beliefs, I was eyeing everyone on the table asking for help. But nobody said anything. I looked at one of my close friends and he was just silent. But I wished he at least stood up for me while I was standing up for myself. I could have made a clearer point by the time but I just chose to shrug it off because I value friendship more than anything. Even though I feel bad because I let fear getting on the way.
My reflection after Leaving The conversation:
It was the darker stage of twilight when I was walking home after that. The whole conversation keeps on repeating inside my head so I started imaging all the words I could have said. While listening to Spotify on shuffle, Matt Monro’s Born Free played and I shed a silent tear as soon as I entered my room.
Reflecting made me realize how small I was hours before that. I kept on thinking the scenario on the table while everyone, maybe unintentionally, turned a blind eye on while I was desperately giving the signal that was asking for help.
And so I swore to myself, I will never get into that situation again – silent. That the next time I’m gonna be caught in that situation, I will stand up for someone because the heart takes note of those little things. And actions like that end up being what wins us over; even if we arguably not win the conversation.
Photo by Cedric Letsch