It was one of those days. I needed retail relief. One-stop to the mall with a new shirt or cute dress would do the trick to lift my spirits.
Well, on this particular day, I hardly made it past the mall entrance. Normally when I walk past the kiosks with the aggressive sales people, I pretend to be on my phone, walk as fast as I can, and turn my head. Don’t act like you’re not the same way. Attractive foreign men will lure you into getting a hand massage with lotion from the Dead Sea or persuade you in trying a face mask that somehow releases heat when touching your skin. I’ve heard them say in an exotic accent, “Oh, please let me spoil you. You deserve this _____ (fill in the blank).” What they don’t tell you is that it probably costs more than your first car.
Well, this time it wasn’t a guy, but a girl pleading with me to buy a hair straightener. My stealthy mechanisms to ward her off were weak. Remember, I wasn’t having the best day (give me a break). But she asked this one question, “Is your name ‘Pretty’?” I caved. After that, I spent what should have been a trip in my favorite department stores in the middle of the mall with someone straightening my hair then curling it (this device does everything). She whispered, “I’ll give this to you $50 less than to the other customers.” That did it! I walked away feeling great, but penny-less after buying a $100 straightener.
Words have power. They have the power to bring life to someone, and they have the power to kill someone (not literally, of course). Unfortunately, we carry hurtful words with us like a suitcase packed tight for a summer vacation. When something triggers a memory, we are able to roll the suitcase right beside us and pull out the word or phrases someone once thrust at us like a dagger. It’s funny how we rarely remember the positive.
These words shape us as we are growing up. You may have been the dorky kid in elementary school, the one who couldn’t put weight on. As kids bombarded you with hurtful words, you began to wear baggy clothes to cover up the knobby knees. Your self-esteem was lowered and to this day, you still have a hard time accepting yourself or compliments.
Maybe you were the “curvy” girl, the one who developed early. You couldn’t help it. People called you names, accusing you of things simply based upon your appearance. You began to not care at all and started doing the very things they were accusing you of. Why not? They never believed you, anyways?
Or maybe you were a good kid, but never really heard positive or negative things from your parents. You would strive to do great, but the lack of words became like negative words to a heavy soul. To this day, you long for words- sometimes any type of word as long as they’re directed towards you.
Whoever you are, whatever you stand for, you remember and painfully want to forget. You carry the baggage.
Unfortunately, we don’t realize the large suitcase behind us until we are older. Usually someone else or some event in our lives makes us have an epiphany. We start to remember so vividly, so colorful the words that shaped our lives like “fat, ugly, worthless, dumb.”
Oh, how I wish I could turn back the time in my own life and make those people realize that what they said or didn’t say still affects me even when I don’t realize it. But I can’t… And you can’t either.
But what you can do is use words in a way that is powerful!
Today, I dropped by the mall. As I was walking by the same kiosk with the same girl, I heard the same phrase, “Is your name ‘Pretty’?” but to someone else. I laughed silently hearing her say that to yet another customer. Ignorantly, I didn’t realize it that day and ended up with a $100 straightener. Even though those words were empty to her, it made a difference to me.
Imagine saying something positive to someone you know and care about. Imagine what kind of lasting impression that you will make.
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