“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” So the saying goes. It’s garbage because I personally know many people who have been hurt by words alone, and also those who hurt other by speaking. The way we talk to each other has a powerful impact on the impression we make and the relationships we create and maintain.
I’ve had my fair share of negativity thrown my way. Comments about everything from my weight, the way I dress, the way I laugh, my off-putting attitude… I’ve been hearing awful things said to me, about me, for as long as I can remember, and even though I’ve developed a thicker skin, it still pisses me off. It’s like we’ve forgotten that what we say actually affects people whether we mean it jokingly or not.
Luckily, I’ve also encountered the awesome ones. The people who come into your life like a ray of sunshine to remind you of all the good things you forget to see in yourself. Those people, I’ve found out, are the ones who aren’t hesitant to tell you straight to your face that despite your flaws, there are also so many wonderful things about you.
In college, there were my incredibly supportive friends. Even though I had brittle self-confidence, they were the ones who believed in my abilities. They could never believe why I thought so little of myself, when they kept telling me how fun, smart, and beautiful I was. This was the first time in a long time that I started to truly believe it.
In my first job, I worked with wonderful colleagues who never failed to let me know how much they valued me. They were vocal about praising each other’s good performance, and always appreciated others’ efforts. One particular co-worker constantly let me know how highly he thought of my work performance, which was a great confidence boost considering that it was my first job. Their positive attitudes were my main motivation to keep improving and give my best efforts at that impossible job.
The Best Friend, though terrible at expressing himself, reluctantly finds a non-emotional way to tell me that I’m a worthwhile person who is fun to hang out with. His words don’t come easy, so they hold a lot of weight.
Then there’s my boyfriend, that infuriatingly patient man who, despite me telling him otherwise, still tells me how amazing he finds me.
Their kind words, fleeting as they may be, have stuck to me through the years. Those words are what I hold on to whenever I’m feeling lost and unsure of myself. Whenever I hear a snide remark directed to me, I’m just grateful for the people who truly matter, and who know who I really am, because they know better than any stranger who thinks they can speak to me that way.
I’m writing this to remind everyone, myself included, that you can never go wrong with saying kind words. It may not be much to you, but it can mean the world to a person who badly needed it.