I chose to do my iExamen this past Sunday. Going into this project I was very skeptical if I would even be able to fulfill it; not that I am at all a mean person to others. I am admittedly a quite sarcastic person by nature, a trait my mother just loves about me, so I was weary that this task of only saying things that are kind, useful, and true would just leave me being silent for the majority of the day. I was also uncertain of the fact that my friends or anyone I talked to would even take me seriously by me only saying things that had to fit under all three of the categories. Needless to say, reaching out of my character to fulfill this project both hindered my ability to really talk to people yet at the same time strengthened my need for meaningful conversation.
At first, when I spoke to my roommates and friends I tried not to tell them about this project I was partaking in just to see if they would answer to my responses in conversation normally; they absolutely did not. It was weird to see that, right off the bat, my friends would pick up and call me out on my change in attitude. Maybe it was the extra perk I unintentionally added to my voice when I said things that fit under all three categories or the fact that they were not used to me not being sarcastic at any point in a conversation; who knows. One things for sure that, after telling them about the project, they were not very supportive and instead would jokingly try to make me tic. A few questions that were raised internally mainly generated around the way my natural character is perceived by others since surely not everyone is used to me being at all down and sarcastic the whole entire day; maybe it was just the fact that they were not used to so much kindness in general.
I bet you could imagine just how hard it was for a mildly sarcastic person to not come up with some sort of retort, or at least not to say it out loud, and instead to say something that fit under all three conditions. I feel as if the hardest condition to fulfill was only being able to say things that are kind. On the other hand, although this did not happen to me on Sunday, I contemplated about the fact that only saying things that are kind basically eliminated getting into fights with other people; unless of course they mistook my niceness for sarcasm. Starting confrontations with other people would have just made a situation last longer and would have caused a bigger problem in my life that I did not need. By this pondering I became more aware about how this iExamen indeed built upon traditional Jesuit techniques of self-observation.
Becoming self aware in this way was definitely a difficult task yet, at the same time, a rewarding one as well. I actually felt good going around campus and giving random compliments to other people even if I did not know who they were or, more importantly, even if I did not have to because it was not really part of the project. It admittedly felt good to make other people feel good and I was way more inclined to do so with this project then I have been otherwise. The task of only being able to say things that are kind, useful, and true also opened up very meaningful conversations with my friends. I felt as if, once I was able to surpass the fact that I was only able to say things that fit under those categories, surprisingly both my friends and I were able to adjust nicely to being real and thoughtful about what we said to each other. This project that only lasted one day absolutely changed the way I will be responding towards others in the future.
Participating in this project not only gave me insight on how I myself have been affecting others but also made me more aware and generally inclined to noticing things about others as well. For example, not saying that this is at all a stereotype but one thing I noticed was how much girl’s just love to gossip. Since I was put under the three categorical restraints, all I was allowed to do was to listen where I kind of shamefully admit I would have otherwise been in the conversation. I realized that gossiping is an unhealthy habit because of the fact that it is extremely unfair to the person or people being gossiped about and only builds up negativity inside oneself. Another unhealthy habit or characteristic of mine that I have realized I partake in regularly is sarcasm. Although it pains me to admit it, sarcasm in the long run really does not do anything to make a situation more smooth and instead, even though people may be joking, it does in fact have the potential to do damage on a situation or to hurt other people.