We have all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you,” Growing up this saying stuck with me because its meaning made no sense to me. At a very early age I came to realize that words did in fact HURT. Based on their connotation, they had not only meaning but power. Physically no there were no scars or bruises; however, certain words when used left me with mental scars and psychological trauma.
Isn’t it unbelievable how this syballic element of speech has so much power? In the blink of an eye one word can either build a person up or diminish a person’s character. Words have the ability to influence or discourage. As a matter of fact, our words hold a paramount to embody positive or negative change in our lives.
Our words impact others and also influence their lives. What we say and how we say it means a lot. Can you recollect a conversation you had with someone many years ago? Do you remember how that conversation made you feel? We have all had those recollections whether they were positive or negative. I recall an experience I had when I was 17 years old. From the time I was 14, I knew I wanted to be a news reporter. I was involved in my journalism program in high school and loved every aspect of print, radio, and broadcast communications. I envisioned starting out as a local news reporter rushing to get the “beat” every morning. I had this dream of being rushed off in a news team car, then being hurriedly thrust into hair and make-up before my arrival. The school I selected during my junior year of high school was Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. There was no doubt in my mind that WKU had the absolute best communications program. My English teacher decided that she would take me on a tour. I was ecstatic! We headed down to Bowling Green in her gold Lexus 350. She told me stories of what life was like, “on the hill.” I couldn’t wait to get to the campus. It was one of the best days of my life…..until we reached the communications department. While touring the broadcasting area, one of the professors pulled me to the side. I was excited because I thought she picked ME for something amazing and great. Instead, she pulled me to the side to tell me that I was too “fat” for TV. She stated that I would never make it as a news reporter if I did not slim down. Now at this time, I think I was around 165 pounds…..I WISH I could be the fat then compared to the fat now! Nonetheless, after those words were spoken to me, I no longer wanted to become a news broadcaster. I felt defeated; I wanted to hide and I have never forgotten that moment.
Words are remembered y’all. As an educator, one part of my philosophy of education is to say something positive about each and every child I teach. Is it hard? Oh yes…..there are days that I have struggled to find something great to say about each of my students. However, I know the importance of hearing something great. A solitary word can make all the difference. An experience that led me to recognize this was when I taught in New Albany Indiana. It…..was….rough! I was a 7th grade special needs English teacher. The behaviors in the classroom were extreme and I had a cap of 32 kids in this one particular class. I honestly did not think I was making much of an impact on the class because it was so large and there were 18 students that had a learning plan. Often, I felt like I was just getting through. It was not the best feeling. One day during guided reading I noticed that my students looked sad. I stopped reading, ” The Giver,” to ask what was wrong. When I found out…..I was shocked and ashamed. Each morning when I started the class I would say, ” Good morning my future leaders.” On this particular day, I didn’t say it. I had so much going on that I just forgot to say it. Without me acknowledging and greeting those babies with those words, the students felt defeated.
Words create a difference in the world. Historically, there are words that have been spoken that uplift us even today. When we hear the phrase, “I have a dream,” we feel inspired! Ladies how does it feel to hear the words, ” I’m a woman phenomenally, phenomenal woman…that’s me?” I know it makes me feel intelligent, proud, and sexy! In stark contrast, there have been words stated that are meant to degrade and hurt.
We are absorbed in words. The consumption of them make us who we are. Therefore, it is pertinent that we watch what we say and how we say it. It is our voice that can determine the difference in others.
Being cognizant of what we say provides the best example of what it means to be a productive citizen. Let’s choose to think before we speak! Let’s choose to speak intuitively rather than through our emotions! Take a deep breath before responding with words that spew like poison. Let’s speak a positive narrative into existence!
Choosing to speak graciously demonstrates that your own life has meaning. Vocalize using words that give your life and others meaning.
Be remembered for what you said and how you said it!