You know when you know that you need to kick a bad habit? Going cold turkey seems like the best solution: to cut it all out of your life in one go instead of dragging out the process and torturing yourself with moderation; you crush the cigarettes and pour the vodka down the drain rather than slowly cutting down on your habit; you stop buying carbs and you buy decaffeinated coffee.
This month, I was asked to conduct an experiment. I had to quit bitching for a week and I was so excited about it. I was so ready for this challenge, and I thought I had prepared for it. I mean, it was only seven days. Piece of cake, am I right?
We would all love to think that we outgrow our cattiness and that our claws remain clipped by the time we reach our mid-twenties. Everybody does it. We can complain that women are bitchy, and that men are bitchier than most women. At some point we have to admit we ourselves are bitchy too.
This meant I could not collect information purely for my own personal enjoyment, I could not indulge in catty remarks no matter how well deserved, and I couldn’t even judge Kim Kardashian’s latest Instagrams. I could no longer say things to my friends in my best sugary Regina George voice. Oy vey.
For seven whole days I had to suppress my inner Blair Waldorf-isms, and my favorite past time of playing “Who’s life is more soul-destroying?” had to go on an overdue hiatus. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m no bitchier than anyone else. I’m actually a nice girl, but sometimes I really need to release some rage.
Did this mean I couldn’t even bitch on the inside? I assumed so, and my inner mean girl could use the detox. It was kind of like a bitching antioxidant. So, I had to refrain from any negative thinking and surprise, surprise, it was tough.
For the first few days I was irrationally snippy, and as soon as I found a pair of dirty socks under the bed I wanted to gripe about it. Alas, I was optimistic and refused to break so soon. My resolve to complete Operation Nice Girl was solid, and I would keep going.
We want to bitch about everything. We want to complain incessantly about not having the right job, about our boyfriends, siblings, friends and the barista who spelt our name wrong. Bitching is an escape from our own heads, and its release is what keeps us going back for more. Without this I suddenly found myself watching dog videos on Vine on loop, as well as “Chloe we’re going to Disneyland” on YouTube.
When we bitch to our friends or our mum on the phone, we appreciate the well-timed giggles and enthusiastic snorts. We are all just as eager to scratch the bitching itch. Without this, I had no one to tell me how humorous I was. Was I only funny if I was being a bitch?
Most of us have a warning phrase. Something we say when something has rattled our cage. My personal one, in true British form is “Are you taking the piss?” This is the prologue to my bitchy anthology of rants, and whenever I caught myself saying this I knew that was when I had to crush the itch to bitch. I was born with a fuse as short as an iPhone charger, some things I can’t change. But I can try and improve the chinks in my armor.
On Day Five, I snapped. My boyfriend had done something to annoy me in the two and a half minutes he had been asleep. I couldn’t do anything about it. So I sent him a passive aggressive text instead of yelling (after all, I didn’t want to wake him up and I am very considerate). Then I sat and sulked with a cup of tea for approximately 45 minutes until I got so tired of being angry that I went back to bed. I couldn’t formulate the words for my distaste for what he had done, but I could write about it. It was therapeutic, and instead of winding me up even more (like when I talk to my friends) it gave me a fresh perspective. The bitchy thoughts I encountered that night were a hiccup, but relapse is part of recovery.
On Day Six, I had a date with one of my best friends. She asked me if I was still on my “no bitch week,” and was visibly glum by the answer I gave her. It made me sad, too. Bitching was our favourite form of bonding, where we validated each other’s problems. This day was the hardest, because I was put in a situation where my bad habit would thrive. She told me, “I don’t even know when I’m bitching anymore, is that sad?” It’s not sad. Rather, it’s the unspoken truth of nearly every person. We both sat unable to free our devious thoughts to each other. Like a good friend, she didn’t let me suffer alone.
Day Seven was the easiest. This was my time to write about the whole experience. I felt released, but I had to wonder one thing. Was I free? Or just walking straight back into my own mind prison of negativity? Sweet baby Jesus, does this mean I have to quit for good? I choose to believe that bitching is a necessity, and it keeps me from bubbling over. Everything in moderation, you see.
There’s something peaceful about keeping quiet about your rants. You don’t worry that someone is going to overhear, or that someone will repeat your words. You feel a sense of calmness from knowing you haven’t escalated the situation or made someone roll their eyes at you.
If like me, you have no problem verbalising your inner mean girl, then that’s okay. Try not to hurt anyone, and try not to poison yourself with negativity. I’m really not that much of a bitch, I just like to complain a lot.