What is “Selcouth”?

Image result for selcouth definition
It’s hard to be different. For as long as I can remember, I’d wake up every day asking myself why I couldn’t just blend in, wishing I could fit in. I would think about the concept of “normal”; what it is, why it matters, who gets to define it. This is a concept I’ve struggled with my whole life, and still haunts me today.

But what is normal, exactly? Throughout the years, I learned that in order for something to be “normal”, it needs to conform to some kind of standard. We say it’s normal because it’s what we expect, what we’re used to, whatever is typical or average. Here’s two ways to measure “normal”:

First, the “average human experience“, which is if it’s normal compared to a measurable, scientific standard — on average do most people feel this way, am I an outlier, am I close to the norm but still a bit outside it, etc.

Second, the “socially expected behaviors and norms“, which is if it’s normal in the social sense — am I a total weirdo, is there something wrong with me, is something about me socially unacceptable, other people are probably like this but what if they’re not, and so on.

No one wants to be called average. A lot of us have melancholy streaks. We’re lonely and very sensitive, probably more sensitive than everyone else who seem so… normal.

 

After years of wanting to be called normal, I’ve finally given up on that, and would rather be called “selcouth” instead. This word originates from Old English selcūþseldcūþ (“unusual, unwonted, little known, unfamiliar, novel, rare”), from seld- (“rarely”) + cūþ (“known”); equivalent to seld +‎ couth.

Selcouth, as the picture says, means “rarely known; unusual; uncommon; strange; wonderful”.  I’m not someone who likes to be vulnerable and would rather keep my true self deep inside. For years, I tried to create a mask and hide my true self in order to be perceived as normal. For the most part, it worked. As I sank deeper and deeper into the facade, I began to lose myself. After we moved, I vowed to start fresh, and let out my true side. I drew people in, but I also lost some. It was hard, as I have a hard time with rejection, but in the end it worked out, because I was now surrounded by a group of people who care about the real me.

This word isn’t used much, but it does feature in some written work, such as:

In poetry:
Then forth they rush’d: by Leader’s tide,
A selcouth sight they see—
A hart and hind pace side by side,
As white as snow on Fairnalie.

“Thomas the Rhymer” by Sir Walter Scott
In literature:
A strange day and a selcouth sight for auld een.
“Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland” by Various

Our need to be “normal” makes us attempts to project a “put together” image to others.  We spend significant amounts of energy in “impression management”, or wanting others to think highly of us, to like us.  Being esteemed as a worthwhile person is one reason why reaching out to help others can have such a powerful effect on us: it increases our connections to them, affirms our value as an agent of change, and stimulates a greater sense of belonging.

The intense need to be liked  is perhaps best illustrated when considering its opposite.  Being rejected by or rebuffed by others is, for most of us, quite an unpleasant experience.  Even on a good day, it can lead to a “blue” mood; on a very bad day, it may elicit suicidal feelings in some people.

Sometimes it takes a brave person to say, “Just because all these people act like this is okay doesn’t mean it is.” That person opens the door for others to start questioning and redefining what society says is normal. It might be tough, and you might encounter some resistance — especially from yourself, when you wonder if you deserve to get help. But here’s the good news; you do! You deserve to feel better. All of us do.

 

Advertisements

What is ”Pulchritudinous”?

Pulchritudinous, or “pul-kruh-TOO-di-nuhs.” Wow, now that’s a mouthful. This 15-letter, 5-syllable beast was a word I used recently in one of my poems, and when my significant other read it, he looked up from my notebook, one eyebrow arched, and said ”Seriously? What does pulchritinous even mean?” I smiled sweetly, promptly corrected his pronunciation since spelling and grammar mistakes are a pet peeve of mine, and explained what it meant. (Side note: I make mistakes too! I don’t claim to be perfect in that regard.) He sighed, and said I should just say ”pretty”. ”It would be a lot simpler!” he argued.

giphy16
Me in school. Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular…

While he definitely had a point, I also stand firm in the belief of learning new things every day, namely new words. I want to expand my vocabulary to one day have people question and think it plausible that I have a Master’s degree in English. The answer is no, of course, but one can certainly dream. *Writes on bucket list*

While I used the word ”pulchritudinous” in my poem, it’s actually an adjective derived from the word ”pulchritude”, an admittedly easier word to pronounce. It’s actually been used since the 1400s!

Even though it looks (and sounds) like it would describe a disease or a bad attitude, pulchritudinous actually describes a person of breathtaking, heartbreaking beauty.

giphy18

Let’s be honest: opportunities to use this word in casual conversation are probably pretty slim. If you can find a way, I will be impressed. And then probably hate you for being a smarty-pants.

This word may win the award for least-beautiful word meaning ”beautiful”, which, as I said earlier, is only used to describe people. So, you can’t say ”Wow, what a pulchritudinous looking flower!”, but you can say ”Wow, check out that girl at the bar! She’s pulchritudinous!” But, you might get some looks for talking that way. And people walking away from you because they don’t know what to think. Side note, if you find someone who sticks around, they’re meant to be in your life. Words are power! Wow, my typing gets a lot slower when I write this word.

How is this not considered pulchritudinous??

It’s a descendant of the Latin adjective pulcher, which means “beautiful.” Pulcher hasn’t exactly been a wellspring of English terms, but it did give us both pulchritude and pulchritudinous, an adjective meaning “attractive” or “beautiful.” The verb pulchrify (a synonym of beautify), the noun pulchritudeness (same meaning as pulchritude), and the adjective pulchrous (meaning “fair or beautiful”) are other pulcher offspring.

Did you know about the word ”Pulchritudinous” before reading this post? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂 If you didn’t, then I’m glad to have helped you learn something new today!

 

What is ”Hygge”?

I love words. I think that goes without saying (you know, being a writer and all). I’m always looking to expand my vocabulary, and I love to learn new words. Hence, Word Wizard Wednesday was born. How does it work? I pick a random word, I define it, then I share my thoughts. Simple, right? I want to share my findings with my readers. Sharing is caring, after all!

giphy9
Another free word defined. You’re welcome.

This week’s word is ”hygge”. Pronounced hue-guh, hygge is a Danish word used when acknowledging any feeling or moment as cozy, charming or special.

giphy5
That awkward moment when I learned that I was saying this word wrong… I really thought it sounded like ”jiggy”. I’ve been saying ”Let’s get hygge with it!” This doesn’t date me in any way.

Hygge (or to be “hyggeligt”) doesn’t require learning “how to”, adopting it as a lifestyle or buying anything. Hygge literally only requires a conscious appreciation, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. If you’ve ever enjoyed reading a book indoors on a rainy Sunday or a cup of hot cocoa on a snow day you’ve experienced hygge without even knowing it!

Sweatpants are a big part of my life. They’re just so comfy! And yes, sweatpants count as hygge. There’s even a word in Danish for them. Hyggebukser are that pair of pants you’d never be caught dead wearing in public, but practically live in when you’re at home binging on Netflix. Or when you’re too lazy to do laundry and it’s the only thing to wear. This happens to me on occasion. If ”on occasion” means ”all the time”.

giphy6
I prefer the term ”comfy-give-up-on-life-pants”.

In addition to describing things as hyggelig (hygge-like), Danes are also obsessed with adding hygge to other words to describe things. For example, a hyggekrog is essentially a nook where you can get cozy—imagine a window seat where you can wrap yourself up in a blanket and watch the world go by or your favorite armchair where you do all of your reading. Both of these things I do rather well, I might add.

pexels-photo-348523.jpeg
Accurate picture of me in my favorite reading setting: the beach. Although not technically a reading nook, it is one for me!

Since I see the pineapple me above, that reminds me of food! What you eat is also essential to creating those cozy vibes and it’s all about homemade sweets, comfort food and hot drinks. While restaurants can have a hygge atmosphere (think candles on the table and a fireplace in the back), spending tons of money on an expensive meal isn’t the point. It’s more about comfort and familiarity. My idea of this (other than the beach) is a warm cup of tea in a cozy sweater, digging up and making my Nanny’s famous macaroni and cheese recipe, then sharing it with friends and family while getting super fat and bloated (worth it!), and spending the weekend baking to my heart’s content. Food is life, okay? ”Too much food” just isn’t in my vocabulary. Maybe that’s why my weight is climbing.

giphy7
I say this, but only for a fleeting moment. Those pastries aren’t going to make and eat themselves! 

If you want to be truly hygge, just remember to appreciate the simple things that bring joy to your life. Instead of complaining about the bad weather this winter (yes, I know it’s tempting!), light some candles and hunker down with a cup of tea and that book you’ve been meaning to read for months (I need to do this ASAP. My TBR pile is getting embarrassingly long). Or if you’re feeling more social, cook up a pot of comforting soup and invite your friends over for a board game night. Have fun, and get hygge with it! (Yes, I will make that sentence cool 😉 )

giphy8
Hygge, Will Smith! Got to get hygge with it!