Originally Published in Homemade 001. Get a copy HERE
Being raised in a religious household, there were few offenses worse than dropping an F-bomb.
Alright, maybe stealing or murder takes the cake in the major sin department. But there was such a stigma placed around the word that I don’t think I fully embraced cursing until well into my late teens, for fear of getting the wooden spoon to the backside (different time, different parenting style). The few times I did let the odd cuss out, my friends would comment on how foreign it sounded coming from my mouth. Those who know me now would laugh at the notion of cursing being “unlike me,” as there are few words I enjoy more than a nice, emphatic “fuck”.
Those in the advertising industry tend to embrace a potty mouth, especially those who are clever with their cursing, but outside of our fuck-loving bubble, the word largely still gets a bad rap.
Want to show a potential employer you’re unprofessional? Pepper some fucks into your vocabulary. Want to be seen as “unladylike” or of a lower social standing? Let those fucks fly, baby. But this is an entirely undeserved reputation and an archaic way of looking at language. Aside from the fact that it’s probably one of the most flexible words in the English language—it can be uttered as a positive or a negative (“fuck yeah/fuck this”), as a simple outburst in the most trying of times (“well, fuck”), even as a term of endearment, my personal favorite: chucklefucks. It’s also inherently funny. According to comedians and scientists alike, “k” sounds are apparently among the funniest in the English language.
Okay, so it’s flexible and funny, and overall fun to say. But there are many more legitimate benefits to cursing beyond that.
LEARNING TO FUCKING COPE
A well-placed fuck can be a powerful way to deal with pain. Studies have shown that not only will cursing help you tolerate physical pain (ever stubbed your toe and tried not cursing?), it’s also a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with overwhelming situations and helping to build emotional resilience. If that’s the case, I’m probably the most resilient person on the planet, because I use the word... a lot.
In difficult situations where we have little to no control over the outcome, like a client making an outrageous demand, or hearing that slack ping at 9 pm, sometimes a simple “fuck”—or several—is the tool we need to release that pent-up frustration. While cursing alone obviously won’t solve the issue at hand, it’s a great way to calm yourself down and let out those emotions that bubble up in annoying situations. And who knows, you might also make a friend while you’re at it.
MAKING FRIENDS WITH FUCKS
If I could pinpoint the moments in my relationships where I felt that shift from colleague to friend, they’re usually moments that revolve around shared hardships. Whether you’ve been working together on a project where you’re on round nine of revisions, or you both just realized you both have a conservative conspiracy theorist for a dad, there’s that moment where you look at each other and just go, “well... fuck,” and instantly feel more connected as a result.
There’s a reason for this: cursing is an effective way to bond with one another. Because there is “risk” involved with using so-called inappropriate language, cursing creates a sense of intimacy, like you’re getting a tiny peek behind the curtain at who this person really is.
Most people tend to create two separate identities of themselves depending on who they’re interacting with: those they can swear around and those they can’t. Swearing subconsciously sends the message to the other person that you’re letting your guard down, that this is a safe space to let those fucks fly. And if making genuine human connections isn’t something to give a fuck about, then I don’t know what is.
TO GIVE A FUCK OR NOT: THAT IS THE QUESTION.
“Not giving a fuck” is yet another way that fuck gets an undeservedly bad rap, as people tend to conflate the phrase with indifference. But that’s not the case at all: it just means you’ve built up the emotional resilience required to discern which hills are worth dying on. Think about all the fucks you have to give as a daily renewable resource, like calories you can burn. If you spend every day going full tilt, sprinting up every mountain or molehill you encounter just so you can die at the top of it, you’ll have zero energy left for the things that matter.
This was the thesis posited in the article-turned-book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. We find ourselves getting sucked into the trivialities of life and giving way too many fucks over things that just aren’t worth a fuck, which is just an unsustainable way to live. The result of giving too many fucks? Total fucking burnout.
As a highly anxious person, I tend to give too many fucks over too many things. But I’m working on rationing them out more. Because what could be more liberating than to experience a minor inconvenience and feel free from all fuck-giving? It’s not apathy, it’s fucking emotional maturity.
FINAL FUCKING THOUGHTS
Some might see those with potty mouths as overly negative people, but for me, it’s a way of life, and a way for me to find like-minded people. At the end of every week, I have
a standing appointment with some close coworkers/friends/chucklefucks. We all show up with our alcoholic beverages of choice, log onto Zoom, and basically curse about the week for a good couple of hours. It’s like group therapy, but with more drinking and yelling.
It makes frustrating experiences easier to manage because I know that on Friday, I’ll be able to unpack it all as we swap weekly horror stories and lament over them together. These sessions are an accumulation of everything I love about the power of cursing: it helps us cope with fucked up situations and decide whether or not fucks should be given, all while bringing us a little closer together. And none of this would be made possible without one—or countless—well-placed “fucks.”