Quitting, Cold Turkey: Sarcasm

Day one: Rough day, sad day. I came to the realization that I need to stop sarcasm. It’s harming me and my relationships. So I quit, cold turkey. Well at least I tried. I can’t break out of the habit and ended up using sarcasm three times. The second time was the most painful to experience. I realized how much I rely upon sarcasm, how it is my alternative to expressing myself, especially my frustration. Instead of expressing frustration a witty sarcastic comment comes out, it hurts them it hurts me.

But wait, what got me to this point? I’ve been sarcastic for years. I think I first realized the awesomeness of sarcasm from Guaca in 2007. It was my freshman year and we were in USAS together. She didn’t say much but when she did it was funny, witty and sarcastic. I loved it, humor is my favorite, especially when you are in a (unnecessarily) serious conversation and there is that one person just throwing out witty, often sarcastic, comments. I took it upon myself to master it and 8 years later that is where I am.

I can say anything sarcastic and no one knows when I’m being sarcastic, at least not consistently. Instead I’m free to make jokes about others and myself and feel out the crowd without revealing myself. I can mask myself so well, too well. Suddenly friends don’t believe me when I’m being completely frank with them. When I admit secrets of other unexpected things to friends I often get a sarcastic “ha ha ha” followed by an disinterested, “you’re just joking.” I then have to repeatedly let them know I am in fact telling the truth.

But this isn’t what got me to give it up, though it is a big reason for following through on it. What happened was I was playing pool with some friends and began realizing that my sarcasm wasn’t being understood and therefore it was truly pointless, in fact worse. I was spreading disinformation about myself. People began believing things about me that I was trying to say the opposite of. And finally what hurt me the most when I was doing really good at pool against Red Beard and I stopped sarcastically making fun of his moves and tried to sincerely compliment him. He thought I was still being sarcastic and got angry at me. I tried to defend my sincerity and thought he was just being sensitive over his game.

Our walk home was awkward. I was trying to be real and he was annoyed at me for being a jerk. The next morning I felt very sad. Frustrated at myself and realizing I the thing I got in trouble for wasn’t mean it was the fact that I’m always sarcastic and my sincere comments were taken as sarcastic too. I cried a little and realized a lot about sarcasm. Why I use it and why it hurts. I use sarcasm to distance myself from people, to lie to them, to hurt them and to allow me to express my feelings (especially anger) by saying witty sarcastic comments. So I decided to quit.

Day one went well. I have begun understanding how much sarcasm has helped me avoid big problems, like my fear of expressing anger. It’s helped me tell myself I’m an open book while I spew sarcastic lies about myself so no one knows who I am or how I truly feel. It’s hurt people and made people angry at me when we actually agreed. It’s made me feel better than others and let me be controlling. I’m letting go of sarcasm, I’m noticing it every time it happens and realizing why I do it. Instead I’m going to express how I actually feel. I’m not going to hide behind sarcasm, I’m going to try to be myself, express myself.

Goodbye sarcasm, hello authenticity.


2 thoughts on “Quitting, Cold Turkey: Sarcasm

  1. I totally get what you mean. I was off the sarcasm for a while after hurting someone’s feelings really badly, and I swear it was totally unintentional. Not that I didn’t know it was a snarky thing to say but that I would hit an already sensitive nerve was unexpected. It was a remark to make people laugh, not cry and it took me aback for a while. I had to learn to communicate all over again…

    I must admit my sarcasm is up and running again now but only because I switched jobs and have been blessed again with a group of colleagues with functioning sarcasm feelers. It feels like I got my long lost friend back or like a tight corset has been taken off.

    I encourage your sarcasm rehab but also hope you get a chance to let her fly again some day, with the right crowd.

  2. As I don’t talk a whole lot, I haven’t found myself in situations that awkward, but there have been a lot of painful little moments. Sarcasm does look like crying “wolf” a lot… But it can be so funny! Gaaaah. Good luck to you 😀

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