As a writer, I know how powerful words can be. The right ones can lift us up, take us on an adventure, or make us laugh. But the wrong ones can turn even the most confident and strong person into a mere shadow of themselves. Especially when those words are directed at someone they love.
I’ve never thought of myself as particularly insecure or powerless. I’ve always thought that when push comes to shove I would stand up for myself or for the people I care most about. I have that overwhelming mama bear instinct that many of you are familiar with. But I realize now that I’ve never really had a reason to stand up—before now.
Writers know that to write an amazing story, they need to condense their words—they need to pare down the unnecessary ones like just or that. It becomes clear pretty quick that once all the fluff is stripped away, the strongest message of the sentence is left behind. Words are powerful when used on their own.
Even when used one at a time.
Even when used in a nasty text message, or said under one’s breathe. Especially when used to name call.
Some say that writers hide behind their words. They write what they cannot say aloud to the world. Some also say that writers figure out what they’re trying to say as they’re writing their story. Their thoughts miraculously appear on the page almost like the words magically appeared to Harry in Tom Riddle’s diary.
However, I say that writers don’t hide behind their words. They stand behind them because they speak the truth of their heart. If only all people would use words, whether written or spoken, that are worth standing behind.
In case you’re wondering if this post is a rant, it’s not. It’s more of a revelation of the destruction that can result from using hurtful words in real life.
By nature, many writers are more comfortable with the written word than the spoken word…and I’m no different. Many of you who know me well know that I like to see the world as a happy happy place. I see the good in people and in every situation…and I despise confrontation. But as someone who believes in the power of words, (both written and spoken) I draw the line when they are used for merely hurtful purposes.
In the past few months, I’ve been privy to the nasty side of human nature. I’ve had a front row seat to a show I thought couldn’t possibly be real. It played out more like a scene from Mean Girls on steroids than anything I’ve encountered before.
In the world we live in today, cowardly people are the ones who hide behind their words. Behind their social media posts. Behind their name calling. Behind their text messages.
As a non-confrontational person, I choose to turn the other cheek, to ignore, to not judge because people act out for a variety of reasons I know nothing about. I walk away and encourage my children to do the same, to not stoop to that level.
But at what point, by doing nothing, do we turn into a mere shadow of ourselves—waiting for the next word to be written, afraid to make the situation worse, wondering what the fallout would be? I thought I was being strong, and teaching my children to be strong, by not reacting to a very bad situation. I thought I was making the right decision by not engaging in the negativity.
But sometimes, our actions send a message that we don’t intend them to. Sometimes by doing nothing, we are condoning the wrong doings of others. Sometimes by doing nothing, we are telling our children that we are powerless to the actions of others.
Words can be powerful. They can be used as weapons if not kept in check. And so as a writer, I use my written words wisely from the comfort of my keyboard, but as a parent I’m forced to move out of my comfort zone… to say what needs to be said with no apologies.
That doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying. Finding the right words in a confrontational situation is hard. But just like it is when writing any good story, the right words will come if you let them.
And so I did.
All I will say about this very vague subject is that not all real life stories have a happy ending. Not all turn out happy happy the way I’d like. But this one is turning out as well as I could have hoped and for me that’s good enough.
All of the world may not respect the power that words have. But I do. Words are like the ocean, beautiful and breathtaking and inspiring. But the ocean demands our respect too because it can be dangerous as well. We need to take care when swimming in the ocean, and we need to take care when using words too.
Every great character grows as a result of their story, and in this case I am no different. I may have been a shadow of myself over the last few months, but not anymore. And as for my sweet girl, well she may be just about the strongest person I know…now happier than ever…and definitely not a shadow of herself!
And so this post is dedicated to her…and to all strong characters out there who know right from wrong, and when to say enough is enough. I couldn’t be more proud to call her my daughter. ❤
Have a great week my friends! Stay strong and smart with your words. 🙂