When I was a kid I was completely traumatized when a mean girl at camp saw my legs dangling over the side of the bunk bed and squealed loudly “Oh my God! You have ET feet!”
All in all, it was a very unimportant event in the history of my very eventful life, but somehow I still remember it to this day.
Some small (in many ways) and insignificant person said something mean to me 30 years ago and I’m actually taking time to write a blog about it today???
Well, I’m not writing for the reason you may think.
I’m not writing because it traumatized me for life and I can finally look at my feet again and say “I love you.”
I’m writing because this story tells a lot about us as human beings (or extraterrestrials, as the case may be) and how we react to criticism.
When someone says something mean to us, we cringe, get ashamed, take it deeply to heart, maybe carry it with us the rest of our lives. People who are told they are fat when they are teens tend to see themselves that way for their whole adulthoods…regardless of how thin they may get. Those who are told they are stupid or unable tend to underperform because they believe it.
And here is the irony: if someone says something kind to us, we dismiss it, hem and haw, deflect and say they’re just being nice. Compliments fall by the wayside like old tissues, only to be swept up by our insecurities and fears again.
Why do we do this?
Instead of dismissing the nice people as just being nice, how about we start dismissing the mean ones as just being mean? And instead of taking the insults to heart, how about we internalize the compliments?
Our lives would be so much better, so much more enriched, if we allowed ourselves to be empowered by others’ words instead of broken down by them.
I’m not talking about constructive criticism, of course. That should always be taken to heart and we all have room to improve. But it’s time we owned our beauty and our talents and our brains and our all around awesomeness so no one can ever take that away.