Think back. Whose words changed you? Made you believe? I remember it vividly. My seventh grade English teacher at Meads Mill Middle School handed me two stapled pages that comprised my hand written essay and told me I was a good writer. Her words hung in my mind and I started to believe them. I began to think of myself differently. I took more time and worked harder at writing. Then in high school another teacher said it again and my belief grew more.
Two comments, compounded over years, helped me find my way to a place of confidence as college student and then as a fledgling reporter early in my TV days, when a lack of experience could have made me doubt. Even now, as I write my first book, those long buried words still speak because they became a part of me.
A few simple words in passing, that’s all it takes. No pomp. No circumstance. But beware, my friends, because the power of our words can also make a young person believe the worst. I’ve seen that happen, too, and the result can be devastating: kids who think of themselves as stupid, or bad, or as someone who will never amount to anything. Those words take hold, too, and eat away at confidence and hope and belief. Our adult messages must be guarded, their impact considered before we open our mouths.
Keep an eye out for a young person you know and notice out loud something she’s good at. Then stand back and watch the seeds take root because they almost always do. That’s when a life is changed, a child becomes more, becomes better because she, too, starts to believe.
Let’s do this!