Little Girl Lost. Originals 1978. Collage 1997. From “Stories Poems and Images,” an exhibit by Georgia NeSmith at the Cell Gallery in Rochester, NY, 1997.

The phrase “don’t take yourself so seriously” has always bothered me, especially when it is used as a put down. As a put down, it means: don’t be passionate, don’t care so deeply, don’t have deep feelings about anything or anyone. As a put down it usually means “stop making ME feel uncomfortable. Stop speaking truths. Stop making me aware of things that aren’t right. Stop making me think.”

It’s as insulting as when a guy insists that a woman “smile” for him. If she won’t smile when told to, well then, it’s obvious she “takes herself too seriously.”

Another I want to punch people for using is, “I’m comfortable in my own skin.” WTF is that supposed to mean? You feel uncomfortable when you wear someone else’s skin, but fine when you wear your own? How does one wear skin, whether one’s own or someone else’s? Ok, I know it’s supposed to be a metaphor — but even within that framework, parsing it is still impossible.

Right. It’s not literally about how you feel wearing skin — which, unless you got a transplant, would obviously be your own.

Why not just say “I am comfortable sharing my real self with others.” Except you're not, really. Because if you were you wouldn’t use such a hackneyed cliche; you’d actually reveal something about yourself.

Oh, wait. Look at me. I’m taking myself…or rather, the meanings of words, “too seriously.”

Words matter. Words SERIOUSLY matter. Because that’s how we human beings connect with one another on a deep level.

Any writer who doesn’t take words seriously is a bad writer. A shallow writer. A writer who does not honor the meanings of words.

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.