Say it to my face
Have you ever wondered why people say stuff behind your back but never say it to your face?
Well, I have been wondering the exact same thing too.
To be exact, this question has been sticking with me since I was in 8th grade.
I was bullied twice in middle school, which I won’t be really talking about today since it’s a long story. But the bullies always talked bad about me when I couldn’t hear them.
The things that they don’t like about me, things that I need to fix about myself, what I should do to improve myself, and so on.
I always found out days after from other friends followed up by, “They were talking about you, saying…”
I always thought, “Why don’t they say these things to me directly, so I can improve myself and maybe even talk it out with them?”
It got really bad when I was in 8th grade: I couldn’t look at anyone smile without doubting the realness of it. I wound be thinking, “Oh no, maybe they’re faking it. They’re actually not happy with me. They’re going to talk about me later.”
It’s gotten a bit better now, and I don’t think like that anymore, but still to this day, people talking behind my back hunts me so badly. I still haven’t lost the habit of finding out they had something to say about me and then, not being able to trust the smile that people put on when seeing me.(except the ones from my family and best friends because I know they’ll always be honest with me.)
Especially if they were so nice to me in person, I get terrified. I get into this deep spiral of overthinking about everything I did to them.
I understand that there could be many reasons why they weren’t able to say it to my face.
Maybe I was too intimidating. Maybe they couldn’t find the right timing. Maybe they just didn’t even want to talk to me. Maybe… maybe…
However, I still believe you should say it to their face if you have something to say. You could possibly have a calm conversation with them if you logically state your opinion and are willing to understand their side of the story too.
I feel that this situation happens a lot in Japan.
It possibly has to do with Japanese culture of “空気を読む” (to read between the lines) and “お茶を濁す” (to prevaricate).
Nevertheless, to really get to know each other and have a better relationship, talking about your true feelings and thoughts about the person is an important step.
You don’t have to yell or be emotional to do this, if that’s what concerns you.
You can be calm, and briefly state your opinion, such as “ Hey you said this and that before, but I found it offensive. I know you probably didn’t mean it that way or try to make me feel bad. But I would appreciate it if you could be more careful with your words when I’m around you from now on.”
See? It’s a very mature way to say that they hurt you and you want them to improve.
This way, they can better themselves and don’t have to hurt other people like they did to you.
So please. Let’s practice saying it to the face.
Talking behind people’s back and getting other people involved will only make the situation worse and hurt more people.
If they are mature enough, they may get hurt a bit, but they wouldn’t get angry at you.
If they want to explain themselves, they would do so while appreciating your opinion.
We, human beings get hurt. That’s just something everyone goes through.
However, hearing from someone that other people were talking behind your back rather than saying it to your face hurts way more.
Additionally, those anger, sadness, and frustrations you get when you find out about it will have nowhere to go. Because the people who were talking about you don’t know that you know. And if I were to consult someone saying, “Help me, I’m in pain,” that perhaps may be considered as talking behind one’s back.
So I suffer alone and hopelessly, destroying myself on the way.
Graphic by Ayumi White
Edited by Emiru Okada