One exceptionally stressful day in my senior year, I was at my locker trying, rather unsuccessfully, to remember my combination, which was my only hope for getting to class on time. From late projects, to unhappy teachers, to missing lunches, and hard tests, my day had been in a continuous downward spiral. As I kicked my locker in frustration one of my teachers took the time to look out of his classroom door to see why I was so flustered. Being the person he was he knew exactly what had me upset and that I had reached my breaking point. Without any grand gesture he simply looked me in the eye took a deep breath and said “Caitlin, have a great day.” His perfect timing and complete sincerity gave me the optimism I needed to breathe a little deeper and make it through the rest of my day with the hope of a better tomorrow. All it took was a short sentence to make a world of difference in my life, and that is why I believe in the power of words.
Words hold a power that no other means of communication can compare with. A well-written piece of literature can bridge generations while a news story can energize a nation. Words can convey every emotion that a person can experience and they can consequently leave people speechless. At times their power is abused and words are used to insult, teardown, scare, and spread prejudice, ignorance, and hatred. But, if they are used to their full potential they can dispel fear, build confidence, encourage, challenge, and spread hope, peace, understanding and love.
As I walk through the halls of my school I see all the opportunities for language to be used to its full potential. I see the leaders of the school who barely know the power that one kind word from their mouth can do for someone they lead. I see teachers who don’t realize the crushing blows they can give to their students with a simple flaw in word choice. And I see friends who miss out on golden opportunities to spread love with their words. Every interaction I have I try my best to choose each word with care because you never know what grand impact your words could have for someone that day. Each day we are all given the opportunity to change the world with just one word: this, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.