Saturday, July 6, 2013

Week the Twenty-Sixth: Positive Words that Stick in the Brain

It's Saturday, time for a current topic from the Introvert Social Hour. Before I get started, I want to apologize for missing my Wednesday post. Not only have I been super busy recently, but I'm away from home at the moment and I completely lost track of what day it was. Dry your tears, though, because I'll catch up with it in time, I promise!

This week's topic is positive things people have said that have stuck with us. (Sorry there aren't any pictures this time but I'm away from home. I'll do better next time!) I've honestly had a hard time thinking of specific statements because I've been fortunate enough to be told lots of kind things in my life. I've been told many, many times that I'm nice, or smart, or organized, or whatever, and those things are important to me. Every single time someone takes the time to say something positive to me, it makes my day, and sometimes my week or year. But instances that are special enough to stay with me for many years are rare and I can only think of a few.

The earliest one that I can remember started when I was about 16 or 17 and a friend who was a couple years younger asked me to help her run away from home because she was mad at her parents for disciplining her. I refused to do it because in my opinion her parents were only being strict, not unfair, and I felt that she was better off with them than trying to make her own way at that age. She was shocked that I refused her and was mad at me for a few months. Eventually we started getting along again but nothing more was said about that situation for several years. Then one day when we were both in our early 20s, she said, "I want to thank you for not helping me run away that time. Looking back on it now, I can see that it would have been a stupid thing to do and it was courageous of you to love me enough to protect me even though I was mad at you." That meant a lot because it really did upset me to hurt her feelings like that, but I was glad she confirmed that it was the right thing to do. By telling me that, she helped me feel more confident in my decisions about life and braver about standing my ground when I believe something truly important is at stake.

The second thing that comes to mind happened when I was training to become a teacher. I didn't go the traditional education degree route. I had a degree in biology and chemistry and had been to medical school and done other science related jobs when I decided to go into education. I got my teaching certificate through an alternative training program that was basically a ton of education courses crammed into one summer of training -- 8 hours/day, 6 days/week. At the end of the program, everyone had to present a lesson to the whole group (about 100 people, both participants and trainers) in our field of expertise. I felt like I did ok on mine, but the next day when I had to go before a panel of trainers and hear my evaluation, the head trainer said, "You were amazing! Your presentation was easily the best one we saw all week. You may not realize it, but you are a natural teacher."

Maybe he said the same thing to every person that went in the room; I have no way of knowing. But that doesn't matter and, actually, the idea that my presentation was the best doesn't matter. What has stuck with me the most is him saying "You are a natural teacher". To be honest, I think now that he was right, but at that time I didn't feel that way at all and the confidence that evaluation gave me made a huge difference to my first year of teaching. I didn't do everything right, and I knew it, but I kept thinking about what he'd said and somehow it made me believe that I could do better. And eventually, I did. I still don't think I'm the best teacher ever, and if the truth be told I don't think teaching is the very best career for me. But I do have a way of explaining things that helps me connect with kids and guide them along the often unfamiliar pathway of scientific thinking. I don't think I ever would have had the perseverance to discover that without those words of encouragement to lean on.

My third example is a little more lighthearted and a lot more recent but it means a lot to me and I really believe it's going to stay with me. I've never thought of myself as a very funny person. A few people have told me that I'm funny, but they've generally been friends and family, people who like me a lot to begin with so I've seen their opinions as biased. But recently someone who actually is very funny, and who I don't know very well at all, told me that I'm "hilarious" and that I should have the confidence to joke around more often because I "have a knack for subtle humor, which is the hardest kind". I can't tell you how good that made me feel. I love making people laugh (I mean, really, who doesn't?!) and that bit of affirmation has made me feel great for weeks now.

It's amazing how much one little statement can mean to a person for very long time. Thinking about this topic has reminded me of the huge impact our words have on each other, even when they're thrown out in a thoughtless, offhand way. I hope to be the kind of person who says things that remind others how awesome they are. That would be the greatest legacy I could leave behind, in my opinion.

And I hope the words in this post have meant something to you. Remember to leave your questions and comments below 'cause I'd love to hear from you! And if you're interested, you can also find me on Twitter.

Thanks again for reading! If you haven't seen the videos that go along with this post, they are:

Jill, Kristina & Amy

And that's it from me on this Saturday. Best wishes! <3

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