They’re just words, right? Wrong. They are more than that. What we say defines us.
Words do so much to so many. Words can mess us up as quickly as they lift us up only to turn around and throw us down. Words have the power to mesmerize, to amaze, to destroy, to conquer. Words are POWER. Plain and simple. And if you don’t believe me, say the sentence above this out loud while at the mall and see if you don’t get stares.
I have heard so many hurtful things be said to others. About others. In front of others. So many people live their lives believing in the words of others. So many people believe that they are as worthless as their parents make them feel. That they are as lazy as their boss tells them they are. That they are less than human because someone once called them a monster. They believe this because that is all they hear. They believe the words are real, are true. Are definitive. And they believe they cannot change them. That they must embody them. They become the truth behind the words.
I know this because I once was that girl. Believing I was plagued. They said my name like a disease. Always my first and last name together, never apart. As if I was even more volatile because I had two names. Don’t sit too close to me. You may catch it. You may catch what I obviously was afflicted with. I was called everything under the sun: ugly, gross, disgusting, shim, bisexual (although I am not), hideous. Anything that they could throw at me to make me sound like I was less than them. It gave them power, and I let it. And I believed them. I bought it hook line and sinker. If you hear something enough, you start to think there is some truth to it. You believe that you are what they say. So I was ugly. I was hideous. I was a disease. You didn’t want to be friends with me (and some people pretended they weren’t my friends depending on who asked. Because THAT was the cool thing to do). You didn’t want to be anywhere near associated with me. I was cancer. Look out.
But you know what? I started to see differently once I got into college. I was…inspiring. I was unique. I was passionate and driven. I was funny. Outgoing. Smart. Wise. A friend. And then.. all of a sudden… I wasn’t ugly anymore. I was a person again. Renewed. I had a new sense of who I was because NO ONE IN COLLEGE GAVE A SHIT about who I was, where I came from. I could define myself for myself and figure out who I was. And that was liberating. That was my moment to really get rid of the demons of the past, get rid of who they said I was, who I had become. I became me. I became outspoken, an activist, a lover, a fighter, an ally, a mentor. And above all, I became this person. This person who is sitting here typing with a heavy heart for those who cannot be who they are because the words of someone else has defined them. Who can’t be who they are because they feel worse words will come. Who can’t be themselves because the words of the past threaten to overshadow any possible words of encouragement in the future.
I started to chip through the exterior I had allowed those people to build over all of those years, brick by brick. And I found that at the center of the pile of bricks and stones that they had thrown at me was my true self. She was just too afraid to stand up and let anyone know she was there. And she was… beautiful. I am beautiful.
The words cut me…clipped my wings and caged me up. By the power of realization, the power of my voice, the power of MY words, I was able to get rid of the cage like a Pheonix. And I rose. And I was able to fly. And I never looked back. I was able to see the power in myself and use that power to help others realize their power. And I am who I am because of those words. Because of their words, I was able to rise.
I do not wish that those experiences had never happened. I do not wish I could erase them. Those words said in hate and jealousy, disdain and derision made me who I am today. Those words brought me to a place of self-love. And I want to use my words, and my experiences in overcoming those words, to be able to help someone else realize their own power. I want to show someone else that they matter. That who they are, in ALL of their glory, matters. They matter to me. That is what has brought me here, the knowledge that I can help someone else. And I strive to. I want to give others their wings.
Words are not haphazard collections of letters that hold no meaning. As much as we would like to think they are, they’re not. They are powerful. They can be weapons.
I choose to use mine as band-aids, as salves, as lotions and potions to heal…
As tools to break down bricks, as wings to help those who need it to fly…
I choose to use my words for good.
Because you never know who is listening…
And may need help tearing down some bricks.