Language Frustrates Me

Language Frustrates Me
I wrote this piece about thirty years ago when I was as an undergraduate. I used it as a writing sample when applying for jobs.


Language frustrates me. Because of it, I think in distinctions; I draw lines where they do not in fact exist; I categorize and differentiate. All this I do to simplify, to impose order. All this so that I need not think or feel or know too much. All this so that I may function in a complex world. Otherwise, I would be overwhelmed. Or so I believe. But, in actuality, my attempts to simplify, to order the world around me, make my world more complex. More complex because I distort. More complex, for language is inherently imprecise. And, I get caught in my errors, in my ignorance, and in my arrogance. I err when I oversimplify. I close my eyes to what is really going on when I ignore subtleties that elude definition. And, I arrogantly play God when I try to control my environment, imposing on it an order that is not necessarily there. Still, I convince myself that making these distinctions somehow empowers me. But the definitions, the distinctions, the categorizations I make become cages, and I find myself, not the objects I define, behind the bars. For in limiting what is limitless, in trying to contain what will not fit into any box or cage, I limit and imprison myself.


This piece of prose poetry means a great deal to me. It still resonates. My questioning and open nature, my love for ideas, my ambivalence for language, my theological bent, are part and parcel of who I am. Have been and still are.
Too bad I didn’t save more of my writing, that I pitched it all in an attempt to clean house. This piece, though, I kept in my résumé file.


  1. It gave so much for me to think about. It gave language to what I didn’t realize was unlabeled…

  2. Thank you so much. Paradox, isn’t it?

  3. I really really like this. It is so true…language can be so freeing and yet it is so inadequate and limited and bound to earth…..
    I do enjoy the amazing use of language in this piece about the limitations of language, however. 🙂
    Well written.
    I do love me some good words.

  4. quite some time ago. very well stated! yes, the 24-7 sped right up with mobile phones. the phone is the one hold out I’ve resisted, so far. I have one, just refuse to turn it on 🙂

  5. I wrote this in the 80s, well before 24/7 social media.

  6. sorry, Kitt! hit enter too soon 🙂

  7. beautifully stated. Your words speak to me as well. Speaking just for myself, wondering if because the world has gotten so out of control with its ever increasing complexities and 24-7 demands…… do I seek to simplify that which I can, to lessen the load? Thanks Kit for sharing!!

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  9. Ah, the memoirs of a control freak! I could relate to almost all of that piece Kitt..
    Lovely writing hon, so glad you kept it. Even happier that you shared it with us.
    Thank you xxxx

  10. that is so nice! after all this time!

  11. Thank you, Lynz. Still speaks to me, even as I write.

  12. Very good piece! Glad you kept it!

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