Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. We all know these words very well as they were first spoken as a lesson to be learned from our parents, grandparents, and/or teachers. As kids we fought off mean words could only be cured with a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and chocolate milk. As teenagers we battled high school cliques and name-calling that bruised our self-image until we were old enough to fully understand the concept of jealousy and bullying. And for some, fortunately not myself, those college years surrounded by ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend drama, as well as the fratastic and sorowhorish (no harm nor ill-will intended!) initiations and (surprise) jealousy again that resonates on the sticky floors and booze-infested air. Unfortunately when you graduate college and must finally admit your adult status, the drama and pettiness is supposed to end. (It doesn’t.) Do the mean words ever stop being spoken? Oh well, sticks & stones…
If we’re supposed to let mean words go in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, what is the route that kind, complimentary words are meant to follow? They’re just words too so should they not have as great of an impact as generous actions? Right? Words are just words, after all. We hear them all the time. We say them ourselves. Some we speak with such conviction, while others merely come out carelessly as soon as we open our mouths.
Why do some words haunt us? They are only words. We hear thousands of them each day. We speak millions of words in year. We do not remember half of the things that we hear nor the words we even say. So then why do certain words stick with us- the good, the bad, and the evil words?
So which is which? How do we know which words are, well, lies, and which are spoken honesty and compassion? Why do we tend to fall for the lies? And more importantly, why is it so darn hard for us to believe those sweets words that people say to us? Why do we question their meaning? Why do we question the person’s intention from which they are spoken?
Where am I going with these words? So this weekend, in a non-sober state, I had two different set of words from two different people (boys) spoken to me that are sticking with me still today- almost 40 hours later. It’s not a broken record scenario, but I do find myself pondering their validity, especially the first set of words- which I’ll mention second.
The words “…you are a gorgeous girl…” were spoken by a sober former friend and friend-with-benefits to a drunken girl on the other end. (Yes, I drunk dialed.) I honestly do not remember most of our conversation, although he did confirm that I was not slurring my words- but I do remember this phrase with emphasis on “gorgeous girl” part. I did not expect it- from him nor anyone- and therefore I most likely had a deer-caught-in-headlights look going on. Like I said, I just didn’t expect to hear those words.
“Beautiful” and “Gorgeous”…what is it about these two words? Why do they carry such a powerful impact? And why do we question the reason behind the speaker who directs these words to us?
My faux Facebook boyfriend, Phill, used to tell me that I was “beautiful” too many times back in my college days. And while I didn’t believe it myself, I still felt such comfort and confidence in hearing this one always unexpected word. In a way it was my drug of choice because I was always high on life, for at least hopefully a few hours, until I torn my self-esteem and body image back around.
“Beautiful” is by far the best unexpected word that one can say and hear. “You are beautiful.” Yes, YOU. You are beautiful.
The first phrase from Saturday that was muttered to me is one that I’ll never forget. It meant so much to me. Not only was in unexpected, but it was honest. As tough as I am on myself and accepting compliments I can not in any way, shape, nor form fight off these genuine words with my own doubts and insecurities.
Out of total respect for the person and the situation in which it was spoken, I will not indulge you with more details. Instead I will share these words with you: “(I told her that) you are the greatest person in Chicago and that she had to meet you.” Even with 2.5 glasses of wine in me at that point, I was sober. I looked at the speaker, whom I’ve only known for a few weeks now, with such compassion and appreciation. What else can you do when someone says that to you? Not even I could find contradictory words to overpower those sweet words and instead I only what I could… I believed them. Sure, there are people greater than me in this city…like Oprah…but knowing that these words came from the heart and were just spoken in a self-serving manner, I let myself believe them.
If you read my post from last night, you know that some words were spoken to me (by my parents) that I didn’t interpret so sweetly. So I responded back with honest words, which led their honesty to come out. In other words, I feel a lot better that we were both able to say what we meant.
We all know people who talk a lot, but how many people really speak anymore? How many people really say something when they talk? How many people make an impact on others by the words they say? How many people make a difference when they speak and/or empower others to?
After acknowledging the impact that certain words have had on me, mentioning the one phrase above, I aspire to say more than just talk. I hope that my words- whether spoken or written- can make a difference in someone’s day. That my words can impact another or, perhaps, inspire them.
I truly believe that people come into your life for a reason- friends, mentors, loved ones. We tend to believe the notion that their actions are what guides us through life; however, I disagree. Sometimes it’s their words that really touch us and make us who we are. Their encouraging words and phrases eliciting our confidence reveal the love and support that we need to become more certain of ourselves. These words help us believe in ourselves the way they do.